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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 14:03 GMT
Churchgoers poisoned in DR Congo
Sixty-four villagers have died after reportedly drinking a potion at a religious ritual in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Health officials in Kinshasa, say they are looking for a catholic priest who allegedly administered the drink to his followers during a cleansing ceremony.

About 100 people drank the potion which was said to have mystical properties in Bosobe, north-east of Kinshasa.

Health Minister Yagi Sitolo said they have sent doctors to the village to carry out tests on the survivors.

Retaliation

The village of Basobe is some 100 km from Inongo.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa says the Catholic Bishop of Inongo diocese, Leon Lessambo, confirmed the incident had involved one of his priests.

The priest, according to Bishop Lessambo, has had a history of eccentric behavior.

The authorities in Kinshasa suspect that the Catholic priest has gone into hiding.

Religious rituals have been on the rise in DR Congo, especially in far-flung areas which are not adequately controlled by the government.

A number of priests claiming to possess supernatural powers have been hosting deliverance ceremonies aimed at "washing away" the troubles of their followers.




SEE ALSO:
Congo witch-hunt's child victims
22 Dec 99  |  Africa
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
23 Aug 03  |  Country profiles



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