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Cambodian police say sorcery suspicions set off killings

February 7, 2022 GMT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Police in Cambodia say they have arrested six men who admitted killing five members of a family they believed were using sorcery to kill other people in their village.

A report posted Monday on the national police website said the victims in the Feb. 1 killings in the remote eastern province of Mondulkiri were a 45-year-old man, a 41-year-old woman, two 15-year-old boys and a 5-year-old boy.

It said an 11-year-old boy survived the attack but was in critical condition at a hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh, where he was taken.

The victims and several of the alleged killers, who face charges of premeditated murder, are members of the Pnong hilltribe ethnic minority. The Pnong, also called the Bunong, live mostly in jungle areas in east and northeastern Cambodia.

The arrests took place Saturday. The police report said the suspects confessed to the killings and said they acted because they believed the victims’ family had used black magic against their relatives. Cases of killings linked to belief in witchcraft are rare in Cambodia.

The report said the victims were attacked at their home, where one was killed by a gunshot and the others were bludgeoned with a heavy object.