'Witch' Murders Rattle New Guinea
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 8, 2009 3:05 AM CDT
Baby in Papua New Guinea, which is experiencing a wave of witch hunts.   (©tarotastic)
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(Newser) – An increasing number of women are being tortured and murdered in a series of witch hunts in Papua New Guinea, reports the Independent. The problem is so severe that the government has launched a new commission to address it. Women are often blamed for any untimely death in a tribe. "They used their powers to bewitch a man to death," said a community leader after a woman and her daughter were killed. "We had to get rid of them."

Many of the witch hunts are occurring in isolated areas difficult to patrol by the nation's police.
More than 50 of the deaths were discovered in only two provinces last year. But the deadly witch hunts, once exclusively rural, are now spreading to urban areas. "It's getting out of hand," said a government official.