12 self-immolate in bizarre ritual in Peru

Sindh Online/June 6, 2009

Lima - Twelve members of a Christian sect in Peru were killed after they reportedly set themselves on fire in a bizarre religious ritual, EFE news agency reported Saturday.

The gruesome ritual of the Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) community was discovered by police in Amazonas province following a complaint from the provincial governor, Wilder Rojas, who accused the Adventist congregation of trying to kidnap him.

When the police arrived on the scene, they found a man and his nine-year-old daughter being consumed by flames. The police tried but could not save the duo.

In another room, they found the charred remains of another 10 people, the daily Peru 21 said.

The police arrested the leader of the sect, Pedro Lopez Lancha, together with another three members of his church.

Lancha told police that the burned bodies belonged to criminals who set themselves on fire to wash away their sins.

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