The United States (US) Embassy in Malawi has announced the temporary withdrawal of United States Peace Corps volunteers from four Southern Region districts for their safety in the wake of strangers being targeted because of bloodsucking rumours making rounds in those districts.
The Peace Corps volunteers work with government, schools, non-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations, and entrepreneurs in the areas of education, business, information technology, agriculture and the environment.
The announcement is contained in a Security Message dated September 29 2017, which is superseding another September 22 message on the same subject.
The message said the United States Embassy continues to temporarily prohibit its staff from travelling to Mulanje District due to ongoing acts of vigilante justice stemming from rumours of persons attempting to siphon blood from local residents for ritualistic use in so-called black magic or other nefarious purposes.
“The US Embassy has instructed its personnel to exercise extreme caution when travelling to Thyolo, Chiradzulu and Phalombe districts due to reports of high tensions and threats of vigilante justice in those districts stemming from the same rumours.
“We strongly encourage US citizens to avoid travel to Mulanje District and exercise extreme caution if traveling to Thyolo, Chiradzulu, and Phalombe districts. The United States Peace Corps has temporarily removed its volunteers from all of these districts,” the message on the Embassy’s website reads.
The message continues to say the US Embassy has seen no evidence of persons attempting to siphon blood but the Malawi Police Service reports that, since September 15, at least three people have been murdered for being or collaborating with suspected “bloodsuckers”.
There have also been multiple reports of injuries, property damage, threats and acts of intimidation, the message continues.
“There are reports of villagers forming vigilante night patrols to seek out and dispense justice to potential “bloodsuckers”. Both Malawian citizens and foreign nationals have been targeted and attacked by these groups,” the message continues.
In the week, the safety and security section of the United Kingdom (UK) Embassy in the country also told UK citizens to exercise caution when visiting Mulanje Mountain area, more especially when darkness falls.
The short message that we have seen is telling UK citizens that tensions remain high.
Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa, has asked foreign missions to be assured of security of their citizens and personnel who wish to visit any corner of Malawi.
In an interview on Sunday, Mussa said the Inspector General of Police, Lexten Kachama, visited the area and interacted with the community members on the rumours and the missions should trust what police are saying.
“I don’t know where people are getting these bloodsucking rumours. But, for tourists, I would like to assure them that Malawi is a peaceful nation and they can visit any district where their safety is guaranteed. There are professional police officers who are providing security day and night,” Mussa said.
Three people, who were strangers in one of the areas in Mulanje, were killed in the just ended month for their suspected connection with alleged bloodsuckers.
And,just yesterday there were reports that two people were burnt over bloodsucking suspicions.
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