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9-year-old girl dies after being caned during exorcism ritual

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Police in Sri Lanka said on Monday, 1 March, that­ they have arrested two people in connection with the death of a 9-year-old girl who was repeatedly beaten during a ritual they believed would drive away an evil spirit.

The two suspects, the woman performing the exorcism and the girl’s mother appeared in court on Monday to hear charges over the girl’s death, which occurred over the weekend in Delgoda, a small town about 25 miles northeast of the capital, Colombo.

According to police spokesperson Ajith Rohana, the mother believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon and took her to the home of the exorcist so a ritual could be performed to drive the spirit away.

Rohana­ said the exorcist first put oil on the girl and then began ­to repeatedly hit her with a cane.

Some of the girl’s neighbour tried to step in when they heard her cries, but were unable to save her.

When the girl lost consciousness, she was taken to a hospital, where she died. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

The woman who performed the ritual on the girl was known in the area for offering such services in recent months and police were investigating whether anyone else had been abused, Rohana said.

Police have warned it is not the first time exorcism attempts have been performed in the area, leading to physical injury or death, urging the public to be careful about such services as the girl was not the first to die during such a ritual.

 

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