Agence France-Presse reports
that the 29 arrested individuals, who included eight women, were members of a 1,000-strong group dedicated to fighting sorcerers
. They were apprehended in Biamb, on the northeastern coast of the Pacific nation.
The 'evil sorcerers' allegedly charged exorbitant fees for witch doctors to cast out evil spirits; usually around $470 in cash plus a pig and a bag of rice, but sometimes also sexual favors. This is what roused the ire of the group who is charged with heinous crimes.
"It's against our traditional ethics and morals for a sorcerer to have intercourse with a man's wife or teenage daughter," a local cult leader explained to AFP. "That was the main cause of the frustration that led to the forming of a group to hunt down sorcerers."
They did more than just hunt them down. Armed with supernatural training from village chiefs and "possessed" knives, they murdered seven sorcerers and cannibalized their corpses.
"We ate their brains raw and took body parts such as livers, hearts, penis and others... for our chief trainers to create their own powers for the members to use," one of the arrested men allegedly confessed.
Speaking of members, the group allegedly made soup out of some of their victims' penises.
"This is insane and the cannibalism goes beyond the local culture," one expert told AFP, saying that penis soup is never on the sorcerer hunter's menu.
Anthony Wagambie, the provincial police commander in Madang, told a local paper that this case was just the "tip of the iceberg" and that "more needs to be done to educate locals and eradicate the [sorcery] movement."
In Papua New Guinea, many people, especially those in remote areas, do not accept scientific theories or natural causes as explanations for illness, death or other misfortune. They instead blame them on sorcery or black magic, called 'sanguma' in the local pidgin dialect.
Wagambie told the Associated Press that he expects to make around 100 more arrests over the weekend for cult-related crimes.
None of the seven victims' remains have been recovered.
"They're probably all eaten up," Wagambie speculated.