Deadly magic: The tormented world of ‘child warriors’

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Deadly magic: The tormented world of ‘child warriors’

Children as young as five are used by DRC militias who give them a 'potion' to protect them from bullets

Adrian Blomfield

The potion was powerful stuff: the grown-up rebels who had given it to the boys, smearing it on their beanpole bodies every day for a week, had promised it would make them invincible.

Still, the first time he went into battle Jean-Paul wanted to be sure. With the reasoning of a 12-year-old boy, he worried that his clothes could somehow diminish the magic. So he fought the enemy naked. It seemed to do the trick. Over the next two years, he would emerge mostly unscathed, physically at least, from repeated engagements with the Congolese army, stripping each time.

“I knew that as long as I remained naked, I could be sure that the charms worked,” he said...

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