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Malawi President Arthur Peter Mutharika addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Friday warned suspected vampires to stop terrorising people and told village chiefs to stamp down on witchcraft.

His calls came as a vampire scare in two districts triggered mob violence and left six people dead. Lynch mobs accusing people of vampirism have been on the rampage since mid-September.

"If people are using witchcraft to suck people's blood, I will deal with them and I ask them to stop doing that with immediate effect," Mutharika told a community gathering leaders in Mulanje, a district with the highest incidences.

On Monday the United Nations pulled staff out of two districts that have been swept up in the violence.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, where many aid agencies and NGO's work. A spate of vigilante violence linked to a vampire rumours also erupted in Malawi in 2002.

(Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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