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Witchcraft claims spark riots, 23 nabbed

LUWINGU residents yesterday ran riot and beat up a suspected wizard to near-death for allegedly killing a man and having a list of names of people they claim he wanted to kill.
Police fought running battles with the riotous crowd in Chipalo village and two infants suffocated and were only resuscitated at the clinic after law enforcers fired tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd.
Twenty-three people have since been arrested for investigations, while some police officers have been injured, Northern Province police commissioner Bonny Kapeso has confirmed.
The riot, characterised by stone-throwing and burning of property, started in the morning and calm was only restored in the afternoon after police deployed more officers to the area to quell the revolt.
Mr Kapeso said the victim, Joseph Chibwi, 60, is in a critical condition and had by press time been transferred to Kasama General Hospital for treatment.
He said Mr Chibwi is suspected to have bewitched Robert Kapambwe aged 45, who hang himself in his mother’s house recently.
“The police officers have been deployed in the area to restore sanity and the situation is under control,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Kapeso said a 42-year-old man has committed suicide in Mpulungu and police suspect no foul play.
Supiliano Mwimanzi was found hanging to a rope in his house on January 14.
“The relatives were advised to bury the same day after Senga district health officials visited the scene,” said Mr Kapeso.