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Four held over fire baby ritual

Police in Chile have arrested four people accused of burning a baby alive in a ritual because the leader of the sect believed the end of the world was near and the child was the antichrist.

The three-day-old baby was taken to a hill in the town of Colliguay, near the port of Valparaiso, on November 21 and was thrown into a bonfire.

The baby's mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra, allegedly approved the sacrifice and was among those arrested.

Miguel Ampuero, of the Police Investigative Unit, Chile's equivalent of the FBI, said: "The baby was naked. They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits they threw her on the bonfire alive."

Authorities said the 12-member sect was formed in 2005 and was led by Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, 36, who remains at large.

"Everyone in this sect was a professional," Mr Ampuero said. "We have someone who was a veterinarian and one who worked as a flight attendant, we have a film-maker, a draughtsman. Everyone has a university degree."

Police said Castillo Gaete was last seen travelling to Peru to buy ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew plant he used to control members of the sect.

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