Lusaka – Fourteen Zambians were arrested after riots and vandalism in the capital Lusaka following allegations that a Pentecostal church was practising Satanism and human sacrifice, police said on Sunday.
The rioting and damage to property started on Saturday afternoon and went on through the night, police spokesperson Chrispin Kapela said.
“We have arrested and detained 14 people while the pastors and leaders of the church are in our custody for protection because people want to kill them,” Kapela said.
Thousands of people went on the rampage, smashing the windows of the church and stoning vehicles in downtown Lusaka after they were told that two people had been kidnapped and were about to be sacrificed at the church, Kapela said.
The controversial Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was banned a few years ago, but resumed operations after obtaining a court order.
Angry Lusaka residents also burned down some of the church buildings before marching to a newly constructed multi-million dollar cathedral, which the Universal Church was about to officially open next week.
Riot police officers have been deployed in all strategic areas of the city while armed police officers are guarding the new cathedral to prevent its destruction.
Police have been battling with rioters who are demanding the deaths of the church leaders for allegedly using human beings in sacrificial rituals.