Kenya arrests 19 suspects in "witch" killings

NAIROBI, May 22 (Reuters) - Police said on Thursday they had jailed 19 people suspected of burning to death 11 elderly Kenyan men and women accused of being witches in a case that has horrified the east African nation.

A mob in the Kisii area of west Kenya went from house-to-house on Tuesday night, identifying people on a list and burning them to death in their homes.

"The police arrested 19 people on Thursday morning," Kenya's deputy police spokesman Charles Owino said.

"These people were interrogated and once we gather information they will be charged in court."

Despite the peaceful co-existence of traditional African beliefs, Christians and Muslims in Kenya, there is widespread suspicion of sorcery, particularly in the west, which has a long history of witch doctors and faith healers.

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

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

(Reporting by Aweys Yusuf; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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