Doctors in eastern Indonesia have removed the last of 28 nails found embedded in a three-year-old girl's legs and back in a horrific case some residents and officials blamed on witchcraft.
Doctors in Makassar on Sulawesi island had already removed more than two dozen 10-centimetre (four-inch) rusty nails, broken syringe needles and aluminium rods from the girl's legs before removing a nail lodged dangerously close to her spine yesterday.
"The girl is recovering from the operation and is generally in good condition. She is already playing again," the girl's surgeon Kamaruddin said today.
X-rays in September revealed the foreign objects in the girl's legs and back, prompting suspicions among local residents that they had been inserted magically.
The governor of South Sulawesi province, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, visited the victim and said he believed witchcraft was to blame.
"Believe it or not, in South Sulawesi it is possible for these sorts of things to happen," Syahrul was quoted as saying by local news portal Okezone.com. "We have often heard about people whose heads suddenly go soft, and medics have no idea what the cause is. It's called magic and it's explained in the Koran."
Doctors said that scars on the girl's legs showed the nails had been inserted by a person over a six-month period.
The girl's parents told media that the scars were from the girl trying to remove the nails and that they had no knowledge of how the nails got there. Indonesia is mainly Muslim but belief in black magic is widespread.
In 2009, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono accused his political opponents of putting black magic spells on him ahead of the presidential election.
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