Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sorcery and Cults in the South Pacific

This story seems more like an episode of the Twilight Zone than a report from the twenty-first century:
Police in Papua New Guinea have arrest 320 people for practicing sorcery and religious cults, the National newspaper reported Thursday.

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.

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