JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - An elderly couple were beheaded and their two grandchildren beaten to death in an attack on a village in central Nigeria Saturday, in what police said they believed was a ritual killing.
The attack in Shekan village close to the city of Jos took place in a region where more than 200 people have been killed in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims since late December. But police said Saturday’s killing was unrelated.
“This particular killing has nothing to do with the normal Jos crises,” state police commissioner Abdulrahman Akano said.
“These criminals can be said to be ritual killers because they beheaded the woman and went away with her head. We only found the headless body somewhere in the bush,” he said.
Ritual murders, although rare, still occur in parts of West Africa and have in the past taken place in the run-up to elections. The killers obtain body parts and blood in the belief that sacrifices will bring social success and political power.
Africa’s most populous nation is due to hold local government and state elections in April, as well as presidential and parliamentary votes.
Shekan lies in an area where members of opposing ethnic groups in the sectarian violence -- which is rooted in decades of rivalry over farm land and local political power -- agreed a peace deal last week.
“The agreement was signed just last Wednesday and I don’t want people to abandon it because of this incident,” Akano said.
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Reporting by Shuaibu Mohammed; Writing by Nick Tattersall
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