Peo­ple killed, tor­tured in ex­or­cism ter­ror rit­ual

Antelope Valley Press - - SECOND FRONT -

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Seven peo­ple were killed in a bizarre reli­gious rit­ual in a jun­gle com­mu­nity in Panama, in which indige­nous res­i­dents were rounded up by about 10 lay preach­ers and tor­tured, beaten, burned and hacked with ma­chetes to make them “re­pent their sins,” au­thor­i­ties said Thurs­day.

Po­lice freed 14 mem­bers of the Ngabé Buglé indige­nous group who had been tied up and beaten with wooden cud­gels and Bi­bles.

Lo­cal pros­e­cu­tor Rafael Baloyes de­scribed a chill­ing scene found by in­ves­ti­ga­tors when they made their way through the jun­gle-clad hills to the re­mote Ngabé Buglé indige­nous com­mu­nity near the Caribbean coast Tues­day.

Alerted by three vil­lagers who es­caped and made their way to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal for treat­ment ear­lier, po­lice were pre­pared for some­thing bad, Baloyes said, but were still sur­prised by what they dis­cov­ered at an im­pro­vised “church” at a ranch where a lit­tle-known reli­gious sect known as “The New Light of God” was op­er­at­ing.

“They were per­form­ing a rit­ual in­side the struc­ture.

In that rit­ual, there were peo­ple be­ing held against their will, be­ing mis­treated,” Baloyes said.

“All of these rites were aimed at killing them if they did not re­pent their sins,” he said. “There was a naked person, a woman,” in­side the build­ing, where in­ves­ti­ga­tors found ma­chetes, knives and a rit­u­ally sac­ri­ficed goat, he said.

The rites had been go­ing on since Satur­day, and had al­ready re­sulted in deaths, Baloyes said.

About a mile away from the church build­ing, au­thor­i­ties found a freshly dug grave with the corpses of six chil­dren and one adult. The dead in­cluded five chil­dren as young as a year old, their preg­nant mother and a 17-year-old fe­male neigh­bor.

All the vic­tims, and ap­par­ently all the sus­pects, were mem­bers of the same indige­nous com­mu­nity.

Ri­cardo Mi­randa, leader of the Ngabé Buglé semi-au­ton­o­mous zone known as a Co­marca, called the sect “sa­tanic” and said it went against the re­gion’s Christian be­liefs.

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