7 killed, 15 injured by Panama religious sect

[Photo credit: Reuters]

Three people made their way through the dense jungles of Panama to get to a hospital for treatment after a local religious sect began abusing people over the weekend.


On January 15th authorities raided the community.  They had been told by the villagers what was going on, but according to reports, they were still not prepared for what they found at the "New Light of God."


Rafael Baloyes, a local prosecutor, described what they found in the remote Ngabé Buglé indigenous community.


“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" being held against her will inside of the structure that was being used by the sect.


Also inside investigators found wooden cudgels, machetes, knives, and a ritually sacrificed goat.


Nearby investigators located a freshly dug communal grave which contained the remains of one adult, a 32 year old woman that was 4-6 months pregnant, as well as three boys and three girls ages 1, 3, 9, 9, 11, and 17.  The 17 year old was identified as a female neighbor, and the remaining children were identified as the children of the woman.


“They searched this family out to hold a ritual and they massacred them, mistreated them, killed practically the whole family,” said Baloyes, indicating that everything had started after “One of them said God had given them a message.”


Due to the remote location, victims were transported to hospitals for treatment and evaluation by helicopter. It is reported that a total of 15 injured individuals were freed.  The injured included at least two pregnant women and some children.


10 people, including the father of the murdered pregnant woman and one juvenile have been apprehended and charged with the deaths and abuse.  A request for a hearing was submitted yesterday, and a preliminary control hearing was scheduled for today at 2 pm.


"New Light of God" is said to have been active in the area for only the last three months.  A well-established evangelical church within Panama known as Luz del Mundo (Light of the World) issued a statement saying that they have no ties with "New Light of God."