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Maputo – The town of Gile, in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, has fallen into “utter chaos”, the local police admit, because of severe rioting caused by rumours that vampires are active in the area and are conniving with government officials to drink the townspeople’s blood.

Rioting in the town was so serious that the Gile district administrator has been forced to flee. The Zambezia provincial governor, Abdul Razak, confirmed on Thursday morning that the administrator has taken refuge in the neighbouring district of Alto Molocue.

According to the Zambezia electronic newspaper “Txopela”, the rumours of vampires have been circulating for the past three months. The disturbances seem to have begun last week when a mob attacked the home of a businessman in the locality of Muiane, accused of being a vampire. The crowd looted the shop, then vandalised the homes of the head of the Muiane administrative post and of the local secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party.

The spokesperson for the provincial police command, Miguel Caetano, told reporters at a press briefing in the provincial capital, Quelimane, on Monday that five people had been arrested in Muiane for spreading the rumours about vampires and inciting disorder. The police also recovered five motor-cycles, several computers and other electrical equipment stolen in the Muiane rioting.

Caetano urged the public not to fall into the traps set by individuals who, under cover of night, spread the rumour that vampires are after their blood. He said those who spread the rumour did so in order to frighten people, and steal their property.

Despite this plea, on Wednesday much more serious rioting broke out in Gile town, where a crowd wrecked the district government offices and attacked officials who are supposedly collaborating with the vampires.

Not only the administrator but lower level officials, accused of hiding the true identities of the vampires, have fled from their offices and homes and taken shelter in the bush.

Caetano called another press conference in Quelimane and admitted that the situation in Gile was “utter chaos”. He said the police are trying to restore order, and urged calm.

The vampire rumour may have reached Zambezia from neighbouring Malawi, where mobs killed five people suspected of being vampires earlier this month, leading the Malawian government to impose a nighttime curfew in the south of the country.

Independent Foreign Service