Port-au-Prince: Fifteen people have been lynched in the southwestern Haitian province of Grand`Anse over the past two weeks on suspicion of poisoning water supplies, media reports said on Thursday.
Several people allegedly died as a result of poisoning, though their deaths were originally attributed to the cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 1,800 lives in the impoverished Caribbean nation since October 19.
Eight people were lynched in Moron Chambellan, three in Jeremie, two in Dame Marie and two in Guinode, correspondents in Grand`Anse told EFE.
In each case, the victim was beaten to death and then incinerated with burning tyres by mobs who accused them of dumping "magic powder" into the local sources of drinking water.
The actions of the vigilantes have sown panic in the region, prompting many residents to hunker down inside their homes after dark, according to the press accounts.
Police have made no arrests in connection with the lynchings.
Authorities are finding it difficult to investigate the killings and the alleged poisoning because citizens are reluctant to cooperate, fearing that black magic is involved, judicial official Kesner Numa told the website Haiti Libre.
The outbreak of cholera comes as Haitians are still struggling to recover from a January 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and left 1 million homeless.