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Albino people 'killed for their body parts' in spate of Malawi murders

Malawian albino people are “living in fear of being attacked or killed”.

POLICE IN MALAWI say they have arrested a man for trying to strangle to death a 16-year-old albino boy, with a rights group reporting six murders in the last three months.

The suspect had been on the run after he was caught trying to kill the 16-year-old at his home in February.

In the southern tea-growing district of Mulanje, police spokesman James Kadadzera said the man would soon appear in court on a charge of attempted murder.

As in other parts of Africa, albinos in Malawi are killed for their body parts, which are sold for witchcraft.

Six albinos have been killed in the impoverished southern African country since December, according to the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi.

Malawian albinos are “living in fear of being attacked or killed” because of the recent spate of murders, association director Boniface Massah said.

Belief in witchcraft runs deep in Malawi and albino body parts are often used in rituals. Even the bodies of dead albinos are sometimes exhumed and sold.

Earlier this week, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein denounced attacks against albinos as “stunningly vicious, with children in particular being targeted”.

Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition that causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.

02-19-2015albino An Albino student (right) attends school in Niambly, near Duekoue, Côte d’Ivoire. Source: UNHCR/H.

Countries in east and west Africa are worst affected, and Tanzania near Malawi has one of the highest attack rates.

In Tanzania, body parts sell for around $600 and an entire corpse fetches $75,000, according to the UN.

On Thursday, Tanzanian police said over 200 people have been arrested as part of a nationwide crackdown on witchdoctors linked to a wave of albino attacks and murders.

Albinism in Tanzania affects one in 1,400 births, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.

- © AFP, 2015

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