Vampire hunters killed at least five people in Malawi in recent weeks, and the country’s president is scheduled to hold his first press conference to “address communities on fears of blood-sucking allegations” on Friday the 13th – an occurrence notoriously associated with the supernatural and bad luck.
The killings, which began in September, have led to a 5 p.m. curfew being imposed.
Over the past month, rumors of witchcraft and blood sucking have taken the local communities of Mulanje, Phalombe and Chiradzulu by storm. President Arthur Peter Mutharika is set to speak in all three locations over the next week.
The UN Department on Safety and Security (UNDSS) reported local mobs accusing people of vampirism. The vigilantes allegedly made roadblocks in the district, raising security concerns.
The Acting UN Resident Coordinator, Florence Rolle, told Reuters in an email that “some UN staff have relocated while others are still in the districts depending on locations of their operations.”
Rolle did not specify how many workers were relocated, but claims UNDSS is monitoring the situation closely and will work to get all affected UN staff back as soon as possible.
The U.S. Embassy in Malawi issued a statement in mid-September urging U.S visitors be cautious after the Malawi Police Service reported at least two separate attacks on visitors to the Mount Mulanje area there.
A press release from the Malawi government recounts an attack on a Belgian couple on Sept. 15. The pair were mistaken for “blood suckers” while traveling from South Africa to Cairo in their 4×4 vehicle. The release said they were “badly injured in the brutal attack and their vehicle was also smashed.”
Although Malawi Police issued a public statement debunking the vampire rumors as a hoax, tensions remain high.
“These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires,” UNDSS said in a security report obtained by Reuters.
The Malawi Government released a statement saying President Mutharika asks the public to keep calm as the government works to get to the bottom of the matter.
The statement continues, saying the president urges concerned citizens to love one another and refrain from taking the law into their own hands when dealing with a suspected blood sucker.
With News Wire Services