Black magic

Mobs In Malawi Have Killed Six People for Being 'Vampires'

Villagers have started to set up roadblocks to catch "vampires," as the black magic scare spreads.
Vendors wait for customers at a makeshift butcher in Blantyre, Malawi on 10 July 2017. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

This article originally appeared on VICE News.

Malawi mobs killed two people accused of being vampires Thursday — the latest in a series of bizarre attacks that have already claimed the lives of six people since September.

Widespread belief in witchcraft pervades Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. A United Nations Department of Safety and Security report, covered by Reuters earlier this month, specifies that the rumors of vampirism likely began in the neighboring country of Mozambique, though it's unclear why the rumors emerged at all.

The outbreak in "vampire"-related violence already led the United Nations to pull staff out of two southern Malawi districts earlier this month. Some NGOs in the area also purportedly took their staff out of the area, as villagers had started setting up roadblocks to catch so-called vampires.

"These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires," the United Nations report reads.

Malawi's government also recently set up a nightly curfew, from 7pm to 5am local time, in order to prevent vampirism-related violence. President Peter Mutharika said in a statement that the issue was "of grave concern" to his office.

Thursday's mob violence took place in Blantyre, Malawi's second-biggest city. A national police spokesperson told Reuters that mobs "torched a 22-year-old epileptic man in Chileka, and another man was stoned to death … after being suspected of being a blood sucker."