Ugandan Child Murders Linked to Witch Doctors

US-backed task force struggles to quell brutal surge
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 6, 2009 6:10 PM CDT
Women and children sit in groups, crushing rocks together with a small piece of metal atop a piece of whittled wood just outside Kampala, Uganda, Saturday, May 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Glenna Gordon)
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(Newser) – Ritual murders and kidnappings continue to haunt Uganda despite police efforts to battle the horrors, the Guardian reports. Often linked to organ trafficking and witch doctors, some 300 cases were reported last year, and only 18 taken to court. A US-backed task force started this year has failed to stem the tide. The current strain of healers, who market themselves by mass media, "is mainly attributed to increased unemployment and poverty," one activist says.

Plagued with food shortages and famine, poor Ugandans are known to kidnap children and sell them for large sums to witch doctors. They in turn sell pricey sacrificial services to people who believe the rituals bring prosperity. Many bodies of kidnapping victims have also been found with organs missing, prompting police to believe that organ traffickers are disguising their work as human sacrifice.