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Confederate flags placed at US church near Martin Luther King centre

Four Confederate flags have been found on the grounds of a church near the Martin Luther King Jr Centre in Atlanta.

Police are investigating after a maintenance worker discovered the flags at 6am on Thursday morning at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The National Park Service, which operates the resource centre and memorial near the late civil rights leader's childhood home, was then notified.

After the white suspect in last month's massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston appeared in photos waving Confederate flags, a movement was renewed to remove the flag from the public sphere.

The flag was flown by armies of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War and is claimed by some white southerners as a symbol of regional and ancestral pride. It has also been used by white supremacists and is seen by many African-Americans as a symbol of oppression.

No one saw who placed the flags, which were not stuck in the ground but set neatly on top of it.

A security guard saw a suspicious vehicle across the street from the church on Wednesday night, but it was not clear if it was related.

Martin Luther King once preached at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is near the new church where the congregation now meets and where the flags were placed.

The centre and church are a short walk from the home of the activist's maternal grandparents, where he lived for the first 12 years of his life.

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