Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill pauses before making an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
A horrid scene unfolded Wednesday in Papua New Guinea that resembled a scene out of the Salem Witch Trials when a mob of villagers bounded and burned a 20-year-old woman accused of witch craft, the Associated Press reports.
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Kepari Leniata, was tortured by an iron rod, doused in gasoline, and then set on fire while alive at a trash site in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen, authorities say. She was accused of practicing sorcery by the relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in a hospital a day earlier.
Hundreds of people, including children, stood by and watched the gory spectacle and took pictures. The photos were published on the cover of the nation's most widely read newspaper, reports say. The country's prime minister and other government officials strongly condemned the killing.
No arrests were made and the Mount Hagen police say they could not control the mob. As many as 50 people are suspected of beating the victim with the prime suspect being the woman's husband who has fled the area, authorities say.
"The incident happened in broad daylight in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses and yet we haven't picked up any suspects yet," said national police spokesman Dominic Kakas, adding that the country's Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Kauba was furious with investigators on the scene.
"We are in the 21st century and this is totally unacceptable," Police Commissioner Tom Kulung said in a statement.
Prime Minister Pete O'Neill has demanded that investigators use all the power at their disposal to make arrests and enforce justice. U.S. and Australian diplomats have condemned the killing, the U.S. has also issued a statement to strengthen anti-gender based violence laws, reports say.