28 Feb 2007

Two women killed in PNG for alleged witchcraft

2:52 pm on 28 February 2007

Police in Papua New Guinea say two elderly women accused of practising witchcraft have been tortured and murdered by a group of men who dragged their bodies to a riverbank and burnt them.

A manhunt is under way for the offenders following Monday's killings near the banks of the Bumbu River in Lae.

The regional police chief Giossi Labi has described the actions of the killers, from a squatter settlement in the city, as animalistic and inhuman.

He says the police are hunting the killers, who would be charged with first degree murder.

The two women from PNG's Eastern Highlands Province were accused of using sorcery to cause the death of a young man.

A Lae community leader, Nelson Zatura, says the women were confronted by male relatives of the dead man and bashed with metal bars, before being bound with ropes and dragged to the river.

He says the mob then piled old car tyres on the bodies, splashed kerosene over them and set them alight.