- SHANWA, India (AP) - It comes
in the night, a flying sphere emitting red and blue lights that attacks
villagers in this poor region, extensively burning those victims it does
- At least that's what panic-stricken villagers say. At
least seven people have died of unexplained injuries in the past week in
Uttar Pradesh state.
- "A mysterious flying object attacked him in the
night," Raghuraj Pal said of his neighbor, Ramji Pal, who died recently
in Shanwa. "His stomach was ripped open. He died two days later."
- Many others have suffered scratches and surface wounds,
which they say were inflicted while they slept. In the village of Darra,
53-year-old Kalawati said she was attacked last week and displayed blisters
on her blackened forearms.
- "It was like a big soccer ball with sparkling lights,"
said Kalawati, who uses only one name. "It burned my skin."
- "I can't sleep because of pain," she said.
- Doctors dismiss the stories as mass hysteria.
- "More often than not the victims have unconsciously
inflicted the symptoms themselves," said Narrotam Lal, a doctor at
King George's Medical College in Lucknow, the state capital.
- The police have another explanation: bugs.
- "It is a three-and-a-half-inch-long winged insect"
that leaves rashes and superficial wounds, Kavindra P. Singh, a superintendent
of police, told the Press Trust of India news agency.
- Police drew this conclusion after residents of one village
found insects they had never seen before.
- Villagers are unconvinced. In the most affected area,
the Mirzapur district, 440 miles southeast of New Delhi, people have stopped
sleeping outdoors despite the sweltering heat and frequent power outages.
- Villagers also have formed protection squads that patrol
Shanwa, beating drums and shouting slogans such as, "Everyone alert.
- Some accuse district officials of inaction and failing
to capture the "aliens." One person died Thursday in nearby Sitapur
when police fired shots to disperse a 10,000-strong crowd demanding that
authorities capture the mysterious attackers.
- "People just block the roads and attack the police
for inaction each time there's a death or injury," said Amrit Abhijat,
Mirzapur's district magistrate, who claims he has captured the UFO on film.