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Malawi leader vows probe as vampire scare forces UN out

BLANTYRE (Malawi)

Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday vowed a thorough investigation after seven people were murdered by vigilantes in a vampire scare that has driven UN staffers out of the affected region.

Since mid-September, vigilantes have slaughtered seven people suspected of trying to obtain and drink human blood as part of magic rituals.

The vampire rumours sweeping the country’s southern region have forced authorities to impose a night-time curfew, restricting movement to 10 hours from 7:00am (0500 GMT) until 5:00pm (1500 GMT).

The UN — which is involved in food aid and agricultural assistance programmes — has pulled its workers out of the area for safety reasons.

Although the attacks are not targeted at UN staff, the UN instructed all its personnel working in the affected areas to temporarily “relocate” to the commercial capital Blantyre, 90km away.

Four districts in southern parts of the country have been swept by rumours of bloodsucking humans, but Mulanje, which borders Mozambique, is the epicentre of the killings.

In a report last week,  the UN said it had suspended all visits to the affected areas because the “situation is still unstable and volatile”.

“We have instituted an intensive investigation for us to get to the bottom of the matter,” the president said in a statement.

Agence France-Presse