"Black Jesus" cult leader on the run

The Electric New Paper, Singapore/June 4, 2006

He is known as 'Black Jesus' to his followers, but he is no saviour.

Cult leader Steven Garasai Tari sent his followers on a rampage in the Madang Province of Papua New Guinea after declaring a holy war on Christian church members in the area.

Cultists burnt down two churches, a home belonging to a ward councillor and attacked two policemen.

This week, the police launched an operation code named 'Black Rose' to eliminate the cult movement as well as halt the violence, reported The Post-Courier.

Police believe that further violence is about to break out as members of the mainline Christian churches in the area were reportedly arming themselves to fight the cultists.

The cult, based at Gal village, has been blamed for the deaths of two people, who police said were used as human sacrifices.

Flower girls

It has also been linked to several abductions of young girls to be used as 'flower girls', with whom the cult leader reportedly had sex with.

Police believe there are about 2,000 people holed up at the cult's Gal village camp.

There were also reports that several jail escapees had sought refuge at the village and were providing security for Tari.

About 20 policemen were sent to the camp on Tuesday to round up the cult leaders and 50 'flower girls'.

They met with fierce resistence from cultists armed with guns, spears and knives, but failed to capture Tari, who escaped with some other senior cult members and is now on the run.

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