Fetish killers dismember Nigerian woman

Lagos, Nigeria - Killers in search of body parts to make magic charms hacked up a woman and severely injured two girls on remote farmland in central Nigeria, police said on Wednesday.

Scores of people fled villages in the Oju district of Benue state, near the border with Cameroon, as word of the killing spread, prompting authorities to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

"The woman's two ears were cut off, her hands were chopped off, her stomach was ripped open, her heart removed and her vagina was taken away," said a police spokesman from the state capital Makurdi.

Two girls who were with the woman also suffered deep machete cuts but survived the attack and are recovering in a local hospital, he added.

The attack occurred on August 11, but the report reached state police command only on Tuesday because of poor communications.

Killing for rituals is common in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, where many believe witchcraft involving the use of human organs can make them instant millionaires or provide protection.

Nigeria is nominally divided equally between Christians and Muslims, but many mix these imported faiths with traditional beliefs.

Sorcerers often use human genitals, eyes, tongues and skulls to make charms.

In 2004, police discovered 83 decomposing, mutilated corpses in a raid on fetish shrines in a teak forest near Okija town in southeastern Anambra state. About 30 witch-doctors were arrested.

The former Anambra state governor, Chris Ngige, said he was taken to the forest to take an oath with some political sponsors before assuming office in 2003.