Authorities in Panama have discovered a mass grave they believe contains the bodies of people tortured and killed by a religious cult.
Investigators had to hike through the mountains for 10 hours to reach the grave in a remote indigenous province in the country’s north-west.
Skeletal remains are being removed from the grave where they will later be forensically examined.
The discovery comes after another grave containing seven bodies was exhumed in January.
Police alleged an indigenous-run religious sect performed exorcisms on victims to make them “repent for their sins”.
The deceased victims included a pregnant mother and her five children, and the family’s teenage neighbour.
A further 15 people were being held captive in a makeshift church and forced to participate in bizarre rituals which included the sacrifice of a goat.
Public prosecutor Azael Tugri said they believe a different sect is responsible for the new mass grave.
“At this time it is not possible to determine either the sex or the number of people [found in the grave],” he told local media.
The grave is located about 210 miles west of Panama City on the jungle-clad Caribbean coast.
All the remains will be sent to a morgue where a forensic examination will be carried out.
Earlier this week, police arrested the alleged leader of the New Light of God over January’s mass grave discovery.
Authorities were alerted to the cult after three villagers managed to escape to a hospital and raise the alarm.
They told police their torturers tried to “remove the demons” by attacking them with machetes, sticks and bibles.
The cult had reportedly been preying on local villagers for three months before police got to them.
Authorities believe the 15 survivors would have also been killed if they weren’t found in time./ Thr Independent