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By Andrew Alphonse

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 16) – Two men alleged to be sorcerers were kidnapped and taken hostage but later released by angry relatives following the mysterious death of a senior public servant in the Pangia district of the Southern Highlands province in Papua New Guinea.

Police identified the deceased as Allan Akopa, 42, of Apenda village in Pangia.

Akopa was a district administrator serving in the Chimbu province.

Police reported that Akopa allegedly died after his heart was eaten by "stone man", triggering the relatives to raid the homes of the suspected sorcerers and abduct them.

The incident occurred at Apenda village on Tuesday last week in which the two men were held hostage and grilled by the relatives of the deceased.

The two men admitted they agreed to carry out the alleged murder through sorcery called "stone man," believed to be a widely practiced form of killing in the Pangia and Ialibu areas of the province.

The angry relatives forced the sorcerers to vacate the village and were told not to be seen in the area.

But before releasing the two men, the relatives demanded from them four live pigs as "bel kol" compensation.

A further compensation demand is yet to be finalized.

It remained unclear if the two men were tortured or interrogated to be able to admit that they carried out the alleged murder.

Provincial police chief superintendent Simon Nigi confirmed the incident.

He said the situation is still tense and that the Ialibu police had to intervene to prevent further trouble.

November 17, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/



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