The United Nations said on October 9 that it has pulled staff out of two districts in southern Malawi where a vampire scare has triggered mob violence in which at least five people have been killed.
The United States embassy in Malawi has temporarily withdrawn its team of Peace Corps volunteers from the four districts in southern Malawi and advised its citizens not to visit the area.
As reported by local police, vigilantes killed six people suspected of drinking blood for ritualistic purposes since mid-September in Malawi. The police have deployed more than 100 riot officers to the region in response to the killings.
According to police spokesperson James Kadadzera, the most recent attack came on October 8 when an angry mob beat two people to death because they suspected the victims of being blood suckers. The victims were travelling to pray close to the mountain when they were intercepted by a violent crowd on their way through a village.
Malawian President Peter Mutharika said the reports were “distressing and agonizing”.
Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries. Low education standards also contribute to the country being regularly dogged by rumours of “vampire” activity.