Two women have serious injuries after being accused of witchcraft and brutally tortured by as many as 20 men in Papua New Guinea as punishment.
The women were forced to endure being burnt with hot iron rods for hours on Sunday in Port Moresby.
One woman managed to escape and run down a hill before being rescued by police. She told The Guardian she was interrogated by the male perpetrators and forced to admit to the killing of a third woman who died earlier in the week.
It's unclear if this confession is true, or whether the woman was pressured into giving it.
Police found the second woman wounded and tied up with ropes, left lying in a garden.
The women were treated at the scene and taken to hospital. St John Ambulance confirmed the women were being treated for serious head and leg injuries and will receive counselling support.
Port Moresby community leader Elliot Raphael told The Guardian the incident is shocking and a solution is needed to address violence against women.
"All we know was that the ladies were picked up in the morning and interrogated, and from there we don’t know what happened before they were tortured and now this."
National Capital District (NCD) Metropolitan Supt Gideon Ikumu said up to 20 men fled the scene before police arrived, but the identities of the men were known to them.
"I strongly condemn these crimes and request the families and relatives of the two victims to come forward and provide their statements,"
NCD governor Powes Parkop told The Guardian he is disgusted and disappointed by the actions of the men and there is an urgent need to fund the National Gender Based Violence Secretariat, a Parliamentary committee that supports the fight against gender-based violence throughout the country.
"The strategy has been developed and these barbaric acts are allowed to continue because we have not funded the implementation of the strategy. It means we must multiply our efforts ... to stop such violence and change behaviour and attitude. We are too slow at all levels."
The United Nations estimate 200 people are accused of witchcraft and killed in Papua New Guinea every year, while local activists estimate up to 50,000 people have been forced out of their homes due to witchcraft accusations.
Anthony Wagamvie Jr, divisional commander NCD and central assistant commissioner told The Guardian police will ensure those responsible are brought to justice.