May 21, 2008 / 4:44 PM / 9 years ago

Mob burns to death 11 Kenyan "witches"


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By Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI, May 21 (Reuters) - A mob has burned to death at least 11 people accused of witchcraft in an area of west Kenya where traditional beliefs run deep, police said on Wednesday.

"Their houses were torched. Eight women and three men suspected of being witches died," Kenya's deputy police spokesman Charles Owino said.

Kisii district residents confirmed the killings, saying an enraged crowd had gone house-to-house on Tuesday night, using a list of supposed witches in the region.

"They burned them alive in their homes," one resident said, asking not to be named.

About 30 houses were torched.

Police drafted extra personnel into the area to prevent revenge attacks in a region already reeling from tribal killings during Kenya's post-election crisis.

Traditional African beliefs, Christianity and Islam co-exist peacefully in Kenya. But there is widespread suspicion of sorcery, particularly in west Kenya, which has a long tradition of witch doctors and faith healers.

Owino said almost all the victims were elderly Kenyans, aged between 70 and 90, although one was nearer 40.

In 1993, eight elderly people from Kisii were also accused of witchcraft and burned to death in their huts by a mob.

(Additional reporting by Guled Mohamed; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Matthew Tostevin))

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)

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