Sightings of a mysterious “black figure” reportedly caused fear and panic across a school in Malaysia over the last week.

Several students and teachers began seeing the “black figure” last Monday at SMK Pengkalan Chepa 2 secondary school in the city of Kota Bharu, according to The Telegraph.

Sightings continued to be reported over the next two days. More than 100 people also claimed to be affected by some sort of “supernatural experience.” The school was closed Thursday, while everyone from scholars to witch doctors carried out prayer sessions and “exorcisms,” according to The Telegraph.

Free Malaysia Today reported that the school reopened Sunday, but screaming and shouting was still heard throughout the halls.

“Our students were possessed and disturbed,’ a school official told BBC. “We are not sure why it happened. We don’t know what it is that affected us.”

Norlailawati Ramli, a teacher, told a local news channel that she was affected by the spriit.

“When I was holding one of the pupils, my arms felt extraordinarily heavy. I recited the istighfar. Things were truly out of control at this time. But after the pupil recovered and went home, I then felt as though someone was hanging onto the left side of my body. I saw flashes of black, like a black figure,” she said.

Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist, downplayed the event. He told BBC that this type of “mass hysteria can happen if a small group all suffer delusions at the same time.

Bartholomew said that because Malaysian people believe in several kinds of spirits, panic and fear like the one seen at the secondary school may happen.

Dr. Wan Zumsni Mustapha, a professor who had taught in Keleantan for about 13 years, told BBC the hysteria was blown out of proportion.

“It could have been brought on by heat, stress or the haze,” Mustapha added.

Local authorities are expected to send counselors to the school this week.

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