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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 - Members - Ngabé - Buglé - Group
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.
Villagers - Way - Hospital - Treatment - Police
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.
Rites - Sins - Person - Woman - Building
"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.
Mile - Kilometers - Church - Building - Authorities
About a mile (2 kilometers) away from the church building, authorities found a freshly dug grave with the corpses of six children and one adult. The...
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