PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — 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.
Machete-wielding mobs have since lynched and killed a dozen people accused of practicing such witchcraft, burning the bodies of their victims, national police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.