| 30 Oct 2003 @ 06:38, by Letecia Layson|
When will the Witch Hunts end???
Couple beheaded for being 'witches'
AN elderly couple in the central Philippines were beheaded by neighbours who accused them of being witches, police said today.
Police in the remote town of Cauayan on Negros island detained three men including the victims' son-in-law, who was implicated by the two other suspects in the grisly July 4 killings. Generoso Casupong, 65, and his 64 year-old wife Isabelita were both decapitated inside their home by two men armed with a large curved knife used to harvest coconut fruit, said Cauayan police investigator Alvin Cuenca. Detained suspect Eugenio Tanguar blames the couple for the death of his daughter from unspecified illness last year. Speaking to reporters behind his jail cell, Tanguar said he threw the woman's severed head in the hearth in the belief that the ashes would prevent the alleged witch from reattaching her body and coming back to life. Another suspect, Carlito Hibolan, said he used the same knife to kill the husband. "He was shouting for help and I was in a hurry to kill him because I know aswang (witches) are strong and was afraid he might overpower me," Hibolan said.
The two claimed the third suspect, Rosendo Cabug-os, had encouraged them to kill his in-laws, also believing them to be witches. Cabug-os denies any role in the attacks. All three were arrested yesterday.
In local folklore, aswang or witches are believed to feast on human flesh and can transform themselves into animals.
More than 800 people have been killed in northeastern Congo on suspicion of taking part in witchcraft.
Ugandan army commander Major General Odongo Jeje confirmed lynchings had taken place. But he refused to be specific about the number of deaths in Congo's Ituri province.
The New Vision newspaper has quoted the Ugandan military command in Aru, Lieutenant Colonel Fenekasi Mugenyi, as saying 800 people had been killed by July 8.
Residents of Aru began killing people suspected of witchcraft in June, but the killings have been stopped by Ugandan forces, Maj Gen Jeje said.
"I have just contacted the officers there and the situation is calm. Nobody will give you the exact figure because nobody has gone to the villages to count the bodies, there are just estimates," he added.
A senior military officer said last week that Ugandan forces were being withdrawn from Ituri in keeping with the Congolese peace process, which requires all foreign forces to withdraw from Congo. The area is administered by the rebel Congolese Liberation Front.
Uganda and Rwanda entered Congo in August 1998 to back rebels opposed to then Congolese President Laurent Kabila.
The rebels accused him of ethnic warmongering and Ugandan and Rwanda accused him of backing rebels using Congo to launch attacks on those countries.
Reports from the densely forested area, where there are few roads, no regular telephones or electricity, are difficult to confirm.
The area, which borders northwestern Uganda and southern Sudan, is also home to 74,000 Sudanese refugees, according to the UN refugee agency.
Story filed: 11:28 Thursday 12th July 2001