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Malawi President Cracks Down on Vampires, Witchcraft After Lynchings

FILE - Malawi's President Peter Mutharika is pictured at the Institute of Peace in Washington, Aug. 6, 2014.

Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Friday warned suspected vampires to stop terrorizing people and told village chiefs to stamp down on witchcraft.

His calls came as a vampire scare in two districts triggered mob violence and left six people dead. Lynch mobs accusing people of vampirism have been on the rampage since mid-September.

"If people are using witchcraft to suck people's blood, I will deal with them and I ask them to stop doing that with immediate effect," Mutharika told a gathering of leaders in Mulanje, a district with the highest incidences.

On Monday, the United Nations pulled staff out of two districts that have been swept up in the violence.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, where many aid agencies and NGOs work. A spate of vigilante violence linked to a vampire rumors also erupted in Malawi in 2002.