Police have arrested 11 villagers on charges of murdering a 10-year-old boy in southwestern Nepal, an official said Sunday, in what villagers described as a case of human sacrifice.
Local media reports said the father of a sick teenager had last Tuesday lured away the 10-year-old, Jeevan Kohar, with a packet of biscuits and the promise of 50 rupees (50 cents).
The suspect then reportedly slit the child's throat on the advice of a shaman (traditional spiritual healer), who said his own son's health would improve if he committed the crime.
"We have arrested 11 people, including four women, for murdering a ten-year-old boy," said Nal Prasad Upadhyaya, police superintendent of Nawalparasi district where the incident took place.
"All the villagers say the boy was killed in a case of human sacrifice, because the suspects were superstitious and believed in witchcraft," Upadhyaya told AFP.
"But we cannot confirm anything until our investigations are completed," he said.
According to a report in The Himalayan Times, one of the suspects, who confessed to the crime, believed that his sick child was under the "spell of a ghost" who could only be "pacified with human flesh".
Shaman healers and mystics are a common presence in the Himalayan nation, especially in remote villages with poor access to healthcare.