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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Bengal tribesmen kill 'witches'
Indian villagers
Widows and divorcees are often denounced as witches

Five women have been killed in India's West Bengal state by local tribesmen who believed they were witches.

Police said the tribesmen admitted responsibility for the killings but said a local priest had told them to do it.

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The priest reportedly told them the women were witches who had caused a spate of recent deaths in the area from malaria and diarrhoea.

Police said they had so far recovered only two of the five bodies.

The killing of women suspected of being witches is a frequent phenomenon in parts of eastern and central India

The police superintendent of Jalpaiguri district, Siddhinath Gupta, told the BBC that the five women were kidnapped near the district's Kilkot tea plantation two days ago.

Police later arrested ten members of the Oraon tribe.

Mr Gupta said that the mutilated bodies of two women had been recovered from an island on the river Murti and the police were looking for the other three.

Womens rights groups say that local priests, tribal chiefs or greedy relatives declare widows or divorcees witches so they can take control of their property.

See also:

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