/ 31 March 2008

Malawi kids torched to death in witchcraft killings

Police in Malawi have arrested two sisters who allegedly torched to death two children — aged three and seven — to exorcise them of witchcraft, a police spokesperson said on Monday.

Police spokesperson Chifundo Chibweza said two other children — aged nine years and eight months — were rescued by villagers who suspected something was amiss after ”hearing strange noises” and seeing smoke billowing out of a house occupied by the sisters.

The suspects had locked up a total of four children in a shantytown house for a week to ”pray and fast to cast out demons” after they allegedly confessed to practising witchcraft.

Chibweza said police were tipped off by villagers, who became suspicious of the smoke and noises from the house.

The two boys who were rescued were admitted to the main hospital in the commercial capital of Blantyre for burns and exhaustion, he said.

The two sisters will be charged with murder, the police spokesperson said.

Belief in witchcraft runs deep in this conservative Southern African nation. — AFP