7 killed, 14 tortured in Panama exorcism terror rituals
PANAMA CITY (AP):
Prosecutors in Panama said Thursday they have found the corpses of six children and one adult in a clandestine burial pit, where a religious sect was found torturing indigenous people in apparent exorcism rituals.
Prosecutors said the dead minors found in the pit ranged in age from one to 17, and that the adult was a pregnant woman who was the mother of five of the kids.
The pit was found at a remote village near the Caribbean coast where, on Wednesday, police arrested 10 members of an evangelical sect known as ‘The New Light of God’.
In that raid, police also freed 14 members of the Ngabé Buglé indigenous group who had been tied up and beaten with wooden cudgels and Bibles. Some also apparently suffered burns.
The Ngabé Buglé are Panama’s largest indigenous group, and suffer from high rates of poverty and illiteracy.
It was not clear exactly what the rituals consisted of, but they appeared to involve some form of conversion and exorcism.
Nor was it clear what belief or affiliations The New Light of God church has.
The area is so remote that helicopters had to be used to ferry the injured out to hospitals for treatment. They included at least two pregnant women and some children.
The grisly scene came to light after three people who had been injured in the rituals made their way to a local clinic over the weekend for treatment, and told authorities more people were being held at the improvised church compound.
There recently had been previous cases of people in the area being beaten or burned by preachers with hot embers.
A well-established evangelical church known as Luz del Mundo said in a press statement that it had no ties to those cases.