Three infants were beaten to death in Myanmar by a man purporting to be a spiritual healer, who reportedly told their families they were possessed by evil spirits.
According to the police and relatives, the mystic punched and kicked two toddlers and an eight-month-old baby to death during exorcism rituals on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Local lieutenant-major Kyaw Naing Soe said the villagers were first put into a trance by the "exorcist". Then he killed the infants as they watched the incident.
"On the night of the 18th, the three-year-old boy was beaten to death and the culprit threw him in the Twante canal," Soe told AFP.
"On his return, he continued to beat the three young girls and two of them were killed," he added.
Tun Naing, the uncle of the dead boy, said the villagers lost their senses after the exorcist fed them "blessed" water. Then they were made to stand in a circle as he chanted and cast spells.
"Because of what he did everyone was out of their mind," Tun Naing said.
"I still feel afraid of something in my mind. I don't understand what is happening... Some people have gone to other mystics to release themselves from the curse," he added.
On Saturday, the boy's funeral in Twante, a town south of Myanmar's main city Yangon, was attended by only a few people as most of his family members were still too scared to come out in public.
A police report said the bodies of the dead children, including a boy, three, a two-year-old girl and the baby, showed evidence of being punched, kicked and stamped on.
The police arrested the "exorcist" with charges of murder, grievous bodily harm and hiding a dead body. He was taken to the Insein prison near Yangon.
Myanmar being a Buddhist majority country also has people, who believe in spirits, astrology and "yadaya" (magic used to ward off evil or misfortune). In this era of modernization, many people still consult fortune tellers and mystics for guidance.
Ne Win, the former military ruler of the country was known for his superstitions. In the late 1980s, he caused economic chaos after he changed the denominations of the currency to add up to his lucky number nine.