Mob kills 9 suspected vampires

Some residents have said that their homes have been destroyed following speculations that they were giving aid to vampires.

Sky News reports that there have been at least nine killings, including that of an epileptic man who was reportedly burnt to death and another stoned to death in one of the country's biggest cities, Blantyre.

According to the reports, the assaults started in September following rumours of "bloodsuckers" on the loose.

The police say that the situation has quickly spun out of control.

Illegal roadblocks have been set up by mobs, which has led to security concerns in the southern African country.

Peter Mutharika, Malawi's president, has appealed for calm in the four districts where the attacks are reported to have taken place.

He said: "my government will offer protection from these alleged bloodsuckers".

Sky News reports that some areas have been declared dangerous zones for people working for the United Nations and US embassy.

A safety report by the UN on the Phalombe and Mulanje areas said: "These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of bloodsucking and possible existence of vampires."

Police chief Lexon Kachama said: "The biggest challenge is that thieves and robbers have now taken advantage of the situation and are mounting illegal roadblocks at night in order to harass people."

There is widespread belief in witchcraft in rural Malawi, a country which is one of the poorest in the world and has many aid agencies working.

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