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Two charged in 'witch' murder in Papua New Guinea: report

A young mother accused of sorcery is burned alive in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea, February 6, 2013
A woman accused of sorcery is burned alive on a pile of rubbish in Mount Hagen city, Papua New Guinea, February 6, 2013. Two people, a 28-year-old woman and 33-year-old man, have been charged with the murder of the young mother, reports say.

Two people have been charged with the murder of a young mother in Papua New Guinea who was accused of being a witch and set upon by a mob that burned her alive, reports said Tuesday.

Kepari Leniata, 20, was stripped naked, doused with petrol and set alight atop a pile of rubbish on a main street on February 6 in the town of Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands.

Local media said a 28-year-old woman and 33-year-old man were charged with wilful murder after police rounded up 40 people for questioning.

The pair are reportedly relatives of a six-year-old boy whose death set off allegations of sorcery against Leniata.

"We are not finished," provincial police commander Martin Lakari told The National newspaper.

"If any evidence or reports come in later saying other people involved are still at large, we will also arrest them."

In a separate incident, a man was charged with the torture of two elderly women following the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in the same town last week, Associated Australian Press reported.

The two women, alleged to have killed the girl through sorcery, were about to be set on fire when police intervened on February 11.

The witchcraft burning drew condemnation from the United Nations, the United States and Australia, while PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill branded it "barbaric".

Police have appealed to the public not to take the law into their own hands in the Pacific nation where there is a widespread belief in sorcery and many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune and death.