Posted on January 26, 2005

Liberian ‘Ritual Killings’ Alert

Jonathan Paye-Layleh, BBC News, Jan. 25

Extra United Nations peacekeepers have been sent to south-eastern Liberia following violent protests over alleged ritual killings, the UN says.

The extra troops will enforce an overnight curfew in Maryland county.

Over the weekend, a police station was attacked by people who said that the police had released suspected killers.

The authorities would not confirm any ritual killings but the area is notorious for using human genital organs to make magic charms.

More than 14,000 UN troops are in Liberia, to help the country recover from 14 years of civil war.

Former combatants

The Commander of the UN military force, Nigerian General Joseph Owonibi told the BBC that dozens of Ethiopian troops stationed in nearby Grand Gedeh county have been deployed in Maryland county to beef up the strength of Senegalese forces there.

He said the weekend violence had “attracted the involvement of former combatants” roaming the region, and said police were investigating the claims of ritual killings.

Gen Owonibi said some of the people who were alleged to have been killed for ritual purposed had later re-appeared.

Information Minister C William Allen said the curfew would remain in force “until otherwise ordered”.

In the past, a large number of senior officials from Maryland were executed by hanging after they were tried and found guilty of complicity in ritual murders.

Human parts such as genital organs are believed to be used to obtain supernatural powers, especially by aspiring politicians.

Victims are often found in the run-up to elections, such as the general elections due in October to choose a replacement for the current power-sharing government.