A man arrested by Tando Ghulam Ali police on Saturday confessed to the murder of two minor boys – one of whom was aged seven – while practising 'black magic'.

Suspect Sikender Bagerani said he kidnapped the two boys, killed them and threw them into the waterways of the area. He claimed the plan was not his – as a trainee in 'black magic' he was acting under the instructions of his uncle, Ahsan Bagerani.

"I committed the crime on the direction of [my] maternal uncle so he would train me further in the black arts," he said.

Villagers told local journalists that they had known both the accused were involved in exorcism in the area for a long time.

Having operated for years, this wasn't Sikender's first killing.

The suspect also confessed to having killed a six-year-old boy, whose body was also dumped in the Naseer Canal in the village.

In an FIR lodged at the police station, Ali Hassan, the complainant, stated that his seven-year-old son's body had been found in a pond in Haji Juman Bagerani village seven years ago.

His child had been throttled to death.

An FIR no 153 was registered by Tando Ghulam police on the orders of SSP Badin Mr Abdul Qayum Pitafi on Saturday under section of 302, 201 and 34 of Pakistan Penal Code against the two accused. Investigations are underway and raids are being conducted to arrest Ahsan Bagerani, SHO of Tando Ghulam Ali at the Dhani Bux Marri police station told Dawn.

No end to 'exorcism'

'Black magic' has continued to persist, particularly in rural areas of the country, due in part to the lack of proper medical services, and prevailing traditions and attitudes. Injuries and sometimes gruesome fatalities result from the practice of black magic and attempts to exorcise individuals.

Earlier this year, an eight-year-old girl received facial burns when an exorcist put her head in a pitcher filled with fire on the pretext of ridding her of demons.

In another case from last August, a woman and her daughter suffocated in a botched fire ritual after an 'exorcist' attempted to rid them of their demons.

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