Albino girl, 5, dismembered in Burundi

NAIROBI (AFP) - A five-year-old albino girl was killed and dismembered after being taken from her home in Burundi, the first such killing in four years, linked to regional witchcraft rituals, officials said Friday.

"Gunmen broke into the girl's home around 1am in the morning Wednesday, they attacked her parents before taking her," local administrator Marie-Claudine Hashazinka told AFP.

The girl's parents alerted neighbours, who pursued the gunmen only to find the victim's dismembered body, with "the bandits having taken one of her arms" Hashazinka said.

An investigation has been opened into the kidnapping and killing, but officials said it is clear that the gunmen were after the girl because nothing else was taken from the home.

Albinos, who have white skin and yellow hair as a result of a genetic disorder that causes the absence of pigmentation, are killed regularly in some African countries for their body parts, which are used in witchcraft rituals.

Nearly two dozen albinos have been killed in Burundi since 2008, with the last case in 2012 when a teenager was killed not far from the capital Bujumbura.

Police arrested and charged in 2009 about a dozen people wanted for killing and plotting to kill albinos - with all of the convicts managing to escape in 2011.

The region has been a hub of albino killings, with a lucrative organ trade in neighbouring Tanzania where albino body parts are often used in witchcraft rituals.

In some areas, a complete albino skeleton is said to be worth as much as US$75,000 (S$100,000), according to the Red Cross.