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Malawi politician victim of vampire rumors


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BLANTYRE, Malawi (Reuters) -- Hundreds of angry Malawians hounded a senior political figure from his house and stoned him late Wednesday, accusing him of harboring vampires.

Blantire Urban Governor Eric Chiwaya, a member of the ruling United Democratic Front, was the latest victim of a bizarre rumor that the country's government is colluding with vampires to collect human blood for international aid agencies.

Bearing severe cuts to his face and body, he told Reuters from his hospital bed that a crowd had hailed him with stones and other missiles, chanting "vampire" and threatening to kill him.

Chiwaya said he knew some of his assailants, adding that political opponents were trying to discredit him and the government.

The vampire rumors have sparked several vigilante attacks on suspected bloodsuckers in recent weeks, despite official attempts to stop the rumor. One man was stoned to death, and three priests were attacked by angry villagers in the south.

Political tensions are already high in Malawi. President Bakili Muluzi's attempts to stay in office for another five-year term have already sparked protests, while many face starvation in the face of a regional food crisis.



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