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 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 camp 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.
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. A well-established evangelical church known as Luz del Mundo said in a press statement that it had no ties to those arrested.