RESIDENTS in the township of Tabubil, Western Province, Papua New Guinea are cowering in fear after a week-old baby was eaten alive in front of a shell-shocked crowd, allegedly by the father.

The shocking scened unfolded in from of Tabubil police station last Thursday in front of curious onlookers, including policemen and the town’s senior district court magistrate, Patrick Monouluk.

An eyewitness who is employed by Ok Tedi Mining Limited told the Post-Courier that the town is on “red alert”, with residents taking precautionary measures. He said parents were restricting their children from going outdoors because of fears that they could also be targets for the cannibal.

“This is the talk of the day on the streets here. Parents fear for the safety of their children because cannibals are on the loose here,” the source, who sought anonymity because of his employer’s media restrictions, claimed.

“Believe it or not I saw him eating the baby by piercing its body with his teeth while blood spilled from his mouth. Everybody watched him with fear.”

Acting Western provincial police commander Peter Philip confirmed the horrific act. He said the man entered his home at Wanbin settlement at around 10pm and started an argument with his wife who was nursing the baby.

Chief Insp Philip said after strangling the wife, he grabbed the child and started bitting its head, neck and breast.

“The child was crying in severe pain. The wife alerted neighbours who attempted unsuccessfully to take the baby from him because he was allegedly possessed by evil forces. He’d displayed unusual strength,” Chief Insp Philip said.

He was finally overpowered by task force police who led him to the police station. He said the man allegedly told magistrate Patrick Monouluk: “I won’t give you the baby because God tells me to eat the baby. It’s a threat to me,” when he asked for the baby to be handed over to him.

The “cannibal” is from the Highlands region and married to a woman from the West Sepik Province.

Chief Insp Philip said the baby was again eaten in front of Mr Monouluk and the pursuing crowd.

PPC Philip said the couple adopted the baby girl from the wife’s niece, a single mother, on January 26.

The man is in police custody while preparations are underway to have him medically examined before proper charges are laid.

“It’s a terrible thing for a human being to eat another human flesh in public view. It is the first ever cannibalism case of this kind in PNG,” the 32-year career officer said.

He said he has received a lot of calls from overseas media curious to know about the incident.

Mr Philip is appealing to young mothers not to give away their babies for adoption as they could be mistreated or face similar fate.