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Angola Shuts Nine Church Groups After Deadly Clashes With Sect

Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 06:37 AM

(Bloomberg) -- Angolan authorities declared nine church groups illegal and shut them two weeks after police clashes with a religious sect that may have killed hundreds of people.

To be allowed to operate, churches must collect 100,000 notarized signatures with copies of identification cards from people across at least a third of the southwest African country’s 18 provinces, the state-run Jornal de Angola reported Thursday. The newspaper cited Isidro Justino, head of identification, registration and legal affairs in the justice and human rights department of Huambo province.

Groups that have been shut down include World Vision, which has operated in the country since 1989, the United Pentecostal Church, Hope Evangelical Church in Angola, the Pentecostal Community of Jesus Christ in the World, New Jerusalem Divine Healing, and Christian Vision, according to the newspaper.

The government in Africa’s second-largest oil producer said this month that eight police officers were killed April 16 while trying to apprehend the leader of a group called Light of the World near Caala in Huambo, about 390 miles (630 kilometers) southeast of Luanda, the capital. Another officer was killed at Balombo about 335 miles south of Luanda, the government said.

The main opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, claims police retaliated by mowing down more than a thousand of the sect’s followers from helicopter gunships. Victims’ bodies were burned and authorities have denied Unita access to the area, Adalberto Costa Junior, a lawmaker from the party, said in an April 28 interview after speaking with police officers and survivors.

Authorities said April 23 they killed 13 bodyguards of sect leader Jose Julian Julino Kalupeteka.

Mario Jorge, a media adviser to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has repeatedly referred queries about the clashes to the national police. National police spokesman Aristophane do Santos hasn’t answered calls or texts sent seeking comment sent almost daily since April 23.

Dos Santos has ruled the mostly Catholic nation of 24 million people since 1979, four years after independence from Portugal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colin McClelland in Luanda at cmcclelland1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net John Viljoen, Michael Gunn

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2015-37-30
Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 06:37 AM
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