Like something from a folktale regarding witches and sorcery. Read on for the disturbing details.
One woman is dead and another is in hiding after a brutal sorcery-related murder in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea police say.
Former primary school teacher Helen Rumbali was beheaded on Thursday evening by a mob in Lopele village, southern Bougainville, after being accused of sorcery.
Another woman is in hiding in a nearby medical centre after she and Ms Rumbali were interrogated and tortured by their captors for more than 24 hours after being abducted from nearby Tandorima.
The mob accused the pair of using magic to kill another teacher.
Acting provincial police commander Paul Kamuai said his officers tried to intervene on Wednesday, but were confronted by a crowd armed with rifles and bush-knives.
The next day, after failing to negotiate for the women’s release, police left the area.
“They thought they had convinced them not to take the law into their own hands,” Superintendent Kamuai told AAP on Monday.
“Thirty minutes after police left, she was dead.”
Fearing for his safety, Ms Rumbali’s adult son has fled the area after three houses near his workplace were burned to the ground.
The Post Courier Newspaper reports other relatives of the women have also fled the area and police have evacuated others.
Supt Kamuai described the family as “well off” and said jealousy could not be ruled out as a factor in the murder.
He said he could not recall when a sorcery accusation last escalated to murder in Bougainville.
Suspects have been identified, but no arrests have been made, he said.
Last Thursday, PNG awoke to news that six women had been tortured and one woman roasted alive over the Easter weekend after they were accused of sorcery in the nation’s Southern Highlands.
AAP has so far been unable to verify the accuracy of the report.
Earlier this year, the burning murder of 20-year-old mother of one Kepari Leneata just outside the Western Highlands capital, Mt Hagen, attracted domestic and international outrage.
PNG’s Constitutional Law Reform Commission has recommended the nation scrap its sorcery law and prosecute sorcery-related killings as wilful murder.
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