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”. Ten people were arrested.
Police freed 14 members of the Ngabé Buglé indigenous group who had been tied up and beaten with wooden cudgels and Bibles.
“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.
The rites had been going on since Saturday, and had already resulted in deaths.
About a mile (2km) 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.
“They searched this family out to hold a ritual and they massacred them, mistreated them, killed practically the whole family,” said Baloyes, adding that one of the suspects in the killing is the grandfather of the children who were slain.