Terror over a fast-spreading cholera epidemic has triggered a violent witch hunt in rural Haiti in which locals have murdered at least 12 neighbors on accusations they used "black magic" to infect people, police said Thursday.
The fast-killing infection is new to Haiti and there is widespread confusion and fear about the disease. In less than six weeks since the first-ever case was confirmed in the country's rural center, nearly 1,900 people have died and more than 84,000 been infected. Rumors began to spread last week in the remote southwestern Grand Anse region, where the first cases of cholera are only now being seen, that Vodou practitioners had fashioned a magic powder to spread the infection, The Associated Press says.
Six people were hacked or stoned to death in the town of Chambellan and five others in Marfranc and Dame Marie, the officials said. According to local journalists, at least three people were killed by mobs in the city of Jeremie, while several others were killed under similar circumstances in surrounding villages.
Health authorities say Grand Anse is the region least affected by the cholera epidemic, which has killed 1817 in Haiti since the first outbreak in mid-October, Herald Sun reports.