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Over 20 South African boys die in circumcision rituals: police

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - More than 20 South African boys have died over the past week during coming of age rituals, police said on Thursday, and they blamed botched circumcisions as the likely cause of death.

Northern Mpumalanga province's police department has opened 22 murder cases but no arrests have been made so far, spokesman Colonel Leonard Hlathi said.

Every year in South Africa, boys aged 10 to 15 years from several of the country's tribal groups are circumcised in traditional "initiation rituals". The ceremonies usually take place over a number of weeks in remote rural areas.

Deaths are often caused by blood loss or infection when circumcisions are poorly performed by traditional practitioners.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane this week called the recent deaths "regrettable".

"This has happened to young people who were still at their prime, looking forward to a brighter future where they could still reach their potential," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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