320 people arrested for sorcery, Harry Potter unavailable for comment
Belief in sorcery is widespread in this jungle-clad, mountainous South Pacific island nation where some villages only encountered Western civilization in the 1930s.
Police raided three villages Monday near the city of Lae on the north coast and arrested leaders of a "cargo cult" and their followers, the newspaper said. Those arrested were aged between 20 and 70.
Cargo cults believe that Western goods or cargo, first encountered through missionaries and explorers, are created by ancestral spirits. They have been known to build airstrips in the jungles in the belief that planes would land with cargo.
One group led by two women used menstrual blood as "sacred water" to enable them to see "invisible things," said the newspaper in the capital, Port Moresby.
One of the female cult leaders, Malamba Kifea, said the sorcery improved the livelihood of the people in Kasin village, a remote settlement some eight hours walk from the main highway.
"We read the Bible and in the book of Leviticus, we found strange teachings about women and their monthly period," Kifea told The National. (more)