Messages on kidnappings of minors have been on social media for more than a week. - Xander_dez / Pixabay
"There is no wave of child abductions." The Gabonese government has announced a "significant deployment" of security forces to respond to violent incidents caused by rumors of child abductions, firmly denied by the authorities.
Messages on kidnappings of minors have been on social networks for more than a week, reviving recurring fears of ritual crimes in Gabon and angering the inhabitants.
"A skillfully maintained psychosis"
While roadblocks had been erected on certain highways Thursday evening and Friday, the government condemned "a popular justice attacking the innocent", in a statement published after a Council of Ministers on Friday. A Gabonese man was killed for having "the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," the statement said.
"Faced with this skillfully maintained psychosis, the government announces a significant deployment of the security and defense forces throughout the national territory with a greater concentration around schools," he adds. On Saturday, traffic was fluid in Libreville. The few schools usually open on Saturdays are closed until Monday.
Ritual crime charges relayed on social networks
Since the disappearance of a 3-year-old boy, Rinaldi, on January 12 in a village in the north of the country, rumors have spread on social networks. An investigation has been opened into Rinaldi, and no further complaints "have been filed for a kidnapping case," the presidential spokesman said on Friday.
Charges of ritual crimes are steadily increasing in Gabon. In 2012 and 2013, the discovery of several mutilated bodies had provoked popular anger. In early 2019, a man was sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder committed in 2012 and his accomplice to 12 years in prison for mutilating the body, the two criminals admitting to having signed a contract for "supply of human organs".
Wave of ritual crimes of children in Gabon
Human sacrifices and murder of children: Côte d'Ivoire in psychosis
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