Uganda: Mob stones three women to death in camp

Kampala, Uganda - Three women accused of being witches in a Ugandan refugee camp were stonned to death by an angry and burned, police said on Sunday.

The three were attacked after the mysterious death of a motorcycle taxi driver, the police chief of Kitgum district, which houses hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Uganda's two-decade war with the feared rebel Lord's Resistance Army, said.

"His skin started swelling up and blistering, he had pains all over," Charles Oumo said. "He died in hospital after his condition worsened."

Police did not know the cause of the man's death, but locals assumed he had been poisoned, Oumo said.

"They thought he was bewitched by someone who had sprinkled a potion on his boda-boda (motorcycle)," he said.

In a harrowing echo of Europe's witch-hunts in the late middle ages, camp elders conducted a "trial" in which they determined who they thought was the witch by secret ballot.

"They hunted down the top three and a mob descended on them. They beat them with stones, sticks and axes before setting them ablaze, still alive," Oumo said, adding that he thought the attacks had happened early this week.

Belief in witchcraft is common in sub-Saharan Africa, where alleged witches are frequently blamed for deaths from sickness.