Christian sect killings in Angola shrouded in fear and mystery

by Reuters Staff  |  published on May 8, 2015

Sect leader Jose Kalupeteka is escorted by police in Huambo, Angola, in this picture taken May 5, 2015. The details of a police raid on April 16 in the remote hills of central Huambo province have been fiercely contested, sharpening the divide between the ruling MPLA and the main opposition party UNITA, who fought on opposing sides in a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. The Angolan police said 13 "snipers" from "The Light of the World" were killed during a raid targeted at capturing Kalupeteka, a popular anti-authority preacher who says the world will end on Dec. 31.  REUTERS/Herculano Coroado - RTX1BS9M

The only traces of thousands of Angolan Christian sect members who were camped in these hills are burnt-out vehicles, shacks pocked with bullet holes and bloodstains in the soil.

The details of a police raid on April 16 in the remote hills of central Huambo province have been fiercely contested, sharpening the divide between the ruling MPLA and the main opposition party UNITA, which fought on opposing sides in a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

It has also raised awkward questions about the government in Africa’s second-largest oil producer, which spent $6.5 billion on defense in 2013, the biggest slice of its budget and more than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Angolan police said 13 “snipers” from “The Light of the World” were killed during a raid to capture sect leader Jose Kalupeteka, a popular anti-authority preacher who says the world will end on Dec. 31.

Kalupeteka was arrested during the raid in the Sumi hills, 25 km (15 miles) south of Caala in the central Angolan highlands, a UNITA stronghold. He was paraded in front of the media in a yellow prison jumpsuit on Tuesday.