Ugandan police don't know who killed Caroline Aya, but they think they know why she was killed. The eight-year-old was found with her tongue cut out, a likely sign that she had been used in a ritual killing designed to bring wealth or happiness. The practice of human sacrifice is on the rise in Uganda, with a record 29 official cases last year, including 15 children, up from just three in 2007. The informal count is much higher—154 people were arrested over ritual killings in 2009, reports the AP.
Police identify human sacrifices by their missing body parts, often genitals or facial features, which are used in the ceremonies. These rituals are believed to bring great wealth—their sudden popularity may be due to a series of violent Nigerian films in which families get rich after sacrificing someone. Witch doctors are also common in the country, and may be facilitating the killings. One such traditional healer says he'd never do such things, but that it's possible others would. "Those are killers," he says. "They are not healers. They are killers."