An 11-year-old albino girl from Swaziland was shot dead in front of her friends and then beheaded in what police believe was a ritual murder.
The child had been washing clothes and bathing at a river with friends and was returning home when she was grabbed by a man wearing a balaclava.
As her friends looked on, the man shot her in the back before dragging her away. Her headless body was found upriver a short time later.
The murder is the latest in a series of albino killings in Sub-Saharan Africa, where sufferers of the rare skin pigmentation condition are concentrated.
Earlier this year, another 11-year-old albino child was killed close to the same spot in Swaziland and her hand was removed.
Police believe both children may have been targeted because of a belief by witch doctors that the blood and body parts of albinos – who lack pigment in their eyes, hair and skin – can bring good luck and fortune when used in potions.
Their value for black magic practitioners sees them often fall prey to human traffickers, one of whom was jailed for 17 years in Tanzania this week for abducting and attempting to sell a live albino man.
The girl murdered in Swaziland was named locally as Banele Nxumalo. A man identified as her father, Luke Nxumalo, told The Times of Swaziland that his late uncle had also been an albino.
“What happened to my child is very painful. I wonder why albinos are targeted because they are just humans like us and a gift from God,” he said.