Kenya: Mass arrests after 'witch' killings

In Kisii district in western Kenya, eight elderly women and three men, suspected to practice witchcraft, have been brutally killed at the same time. They were dragged out of their houses by an irate mob and were – in separate cases – burned to death. The police arrested 86 villagers in connection with the murders.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in the area and there have been some cases of attacking and killing suspected witches in the past. But never before, so many victims have been killed at the same time. During the investigations some witnesses revealed that an exercise book had been found in the local primary school containing minutes of an alleged secret meeting of witches. The book listed not only the names of the participants, but also the names of those whom they planned to bewitch next, they said.

Investigations are still on, said a police spokesman, but those arrested may face charges for murder, in some cases also for violent robbery. Five of them were found in possession of property and livestock of some of the victims. Those charged with murder could face death sentence. The court case is expected to start soon.