Anger rises in Gabon after rash of ritual killings

Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:11pm EDT
 
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By Jean Rovys Dabany

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - A rising number of mutilated bodies washing up on Gabon's beaches this year has sown fear in the normally sleepy capital Libreville of a resurgence in ritual killings.

The body parts of humans and animals are prized by some in central Africa for their supposed supernatural powers, including among some politicians bent on gaining influence.

"We have seen 20 killings since the start of the year," said Jean-Elvis Ebang Ondo, the president of Gabon's Association for the Prevention of Ritual Crimes, in Libreville.

He said most of the victims were young girls whose lips, tongues, genitals and other organs had been removed.

The killings have stirred rising anger against President Ali Bongo's government for doing too little to halt the murders.

"We want to shout out our fury and tell the authorities that this needs to stop," said Jessy Biyambou, a member of the Cry of Women advocacy group, which is organizing an April 6 rally in support of victims' families.

Roland Akoumba, whose 8-year-old daughter was found dead in mid-March, told Reuters he was losing hope for justice.

"When the police removed the body from the water, they saw that the tongue, the lips, and the genitals were cut off," he said. "I filed a complaint but I know it will go nowhere."   Continued...