By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Police in Sri Lanka said Monday they have arrested two people in connection with the death of a 9-year-old girl who was repeatedly beaten during a ritual they believed would drive away an evil spirit.

Sri Lankan magistrate Wasantha Ramanayake, right and police officers inspect outside a house where a nine year old girl was canned to death in Delgoda, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. Police in Sri Lanka said Monday they have arrested two people in connection with the death of a 9-year-old girl who was repeatedly beaten during a ritual they believed would drive away an evil spirit. (AP Photo/ Sudath Pubudu Keerthi)

The two suspects — the woman performing the exorcism and the girl’s mother — appeared in court on Monday to hear charges over the girl’s death, which occurred over the weekend in Delgoda, a small town about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital, Colombo. The court ordered the suspects detained until March 12.

According to police spokesperson Ajith Rohana, the mother believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon and took her to the home of the exorcist so a ritual could be performed to drive the spirit away.

Rohana said the exorcist first put oil on the girl and then began to repeatedly hit her with a cane. When the girl lost consciousness, she was taken to a hospital, where she died.

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