It's a grave situation in the West African country of Benin where more than 100 coffins have reportedly been desecrated in a cemetery near the capital city of Porto Novo, and dozens of bodies mutilated.

The unburied bodies had been sliced open, decapitated in some cases, with internal organs removed, according to TheMorningStarr.co.uk. Locals fear the stolen corpse parts are being used to make voodoo good luck charms.

Cemetery director Joseph Afaton believes the bones and organs are being sold by the thieves as charms.

"The desecration of graves is about money in this region," Afaton told Reuters. "It is for sacrifices, or for bewitching."

The robberies were initially discovered by a mason who had forgotten his tools at the cemetery and he alerted the police, the BBC reported.

The discovery has created a lot of turmoil among the relatives of the deceased since many of them believe in reincarnation and fear their dearly departed will be reincarnated without their currently missing body parts.

A voodoo high priest said that grave robbing is not part of the voodoo mainstream and told the BBC that the grave robberies were condemned.

There was no police comment as to the status of any investigation, but robbing graves in the name of religion is unusual and uncommon.

Last month, five people in Thailand -- including two monks -- were arrested for stealing human skulls from graves to make love charms, and using the proceeds to buy drugs, GeoBeats reported.

REAL VOODOO CEREMONY (All images and captions are shown courtesy of LIFE.com).
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Of Vodou's unique appeal and power Karen tells LIFE: "It's raw, and it's primitive. The harmonious singing and rhythmic beats of the drums can be hypnotic to an open mind. I'm not like a lot of photographers, who take pictures without so much as talking to the people they document. I've shared in plates of communal offerings, danced with the priests [Hougans] and the priestesses (Mambos), and I've downed my fair share of special religious elixirs with them. I won't even get into the cleansing ritual preformed on me involving the blood of a chicken."
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