Five people, including three children, were burnt to death in their home in Kenya by neighbours who accused a member of the family of practising witchcraft, police said on Friday.

Two women and three girls, aged seven, three and two, died in the attack on Thursday in Migori county in Kenya’s south-west, said local police officer Peter Kirui.

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Four other members of the family are in hospital after the arson, including the family patriarch, Elijah Otieno, who was the one suspected of practising witchcraft.

In Africa, men, as well as women, can be accused of witchcraft or sorcery.

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The villagers had accused Otieno of making another man sick, police said.

“The irate neighbours locked them up and set them on fire,’’ Kirui said, adding that 20 people have since been arrested.

Cases of people, usually the elderly, being killed over witchcraft are not uncommon in parts of Africa where superstition runs deep.

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Often people are accused of witchcraft over personal disputes or misfortunes such as deaths from disease or crop failure.

In June, an elderly man was lynched by villagers who accused him of being a witch in Kilifi county. (dpa/NAN)