Angola Opposition Allege Police Killed 700 Sect MembersColin McClelland
Angolan authorities cordoned off an area where police and armed religious sect members clashed last week, leaving hundreds dead, according to the main opposition party.
Journalists, human-rights activists and family members were prohibited from entering or leaving the area near Caala in Huambo province, about 390 miles (630 kilometers) southeast of the capital, Luanda, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola said on its website.
Unita alleges that the security forces are burying the dead in the restricted area to cover up a massacre. National police spokesman Aristophane dos Santos didn’t answer calls or respond to text messages on Friday seeking comment.
Police said they killed 13 bodyguards of Jose Julino Kalupeteka, leader of the Light of the World, which the ruling party accused of murdering nine policemen on April 16, according to the state-run Jornal de Angola.
Unita said local residents told it that sect members disarmed and killed three policemen while six others died when their vehicle overturned as they fled the scene. Police then opened fire from helicopters killing about 700 people, Unita said local residents told its investigators.
Kalupeteka, who was arrested April 17, was driven out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2001, according to Unita. He urged members to sell their belongings and move from their villages to mountains and forests because of their belief the world will end this year, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said on April 20.
Eleven members of the sect were sentenced to as long as two years in jail for resisting arrest, Jornal de Angola reported on April 22.
Dos Santos’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola defeated Unita in 2002 after a 27-year civil war. The first postwar national election in sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy was held in 2012. Dos Santos has ruled Angola since 1979, four years after it gained independence from Portugal.