Accused witch burned alive in Papua New Guinea

witchPORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A mob stripped, tortured and bound a woman accused of witchcraft, then burned her alive in front of hundreds of horrified witnesses in a Papua New Guinea town, police said Friday in the latest sorcery-related murder in this South Pacific island nation.

Bystanders, including many children, watched and some took photographs of Wednesday’s brutal slaying. Grisly pictures were published on the front pages of the country’s biggest circulating newspapers, The National and Post-Courier, while the prime minister, police and diplomats condemned the killing.

In rural Papua New Guinea, witchcraft is often blamed for unexplained misfortunes. Sorcery has traditionally been countered by sorcery, but responses to sorcery allegations have become increasingly violent in recent years.

Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother, had been accused of sorcery by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in the hospital the day before.

She was tortured with a hot iron rod, bound, doused in gasoline, then set alight on a pile of car tires and trash in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen, national police spokesman Dominic Kakas said.

Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Kauba on Friday blasted Mount Hagen investigators by phone for failing to make a single arrest, Kakas said.

The public were apparently not cooperating with police, and police carrying out the investigation were not working hard enough, Kakas said.

“He was very, very disappointed that there’s been no arrest made as yet,” Kakas said.

“The incident happened in broad daylight in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses and yet we haven’t picked up any suspects yet. He was very, very curious about that and he blasted the investigators on the phone,” Kakas added.

Kakas described the victim’s husband as the “prime suspect” and said the man fled the province. Kakas said he did not know if there was a relationship between the…

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