Police rescue 40 children in raid on religious sect
POLICE have raided a religious sect in southern Germany and taken 40 children from them on allegations they were being physically abused.
Bavarian police said the children of the Twelve Tribes sect were taken into protective custody the day before as investigators look into allegations that they were being beaten and otherwise physically punished.
The sect said in a statement on its website that the children were aged one to 17 and they would remain with foster parents at least until a court hearing next week. It said "there was no direct evidence against any individual provided".
Authorities said 28 of the children were found at one of the Christian sect's locations in the town of Deinigen, and 12 others in Woernitz.
About 100 police officers were involved in the raids.
The sect's statement said: "Where is the legal basis here? People cannot be found guilty based on their association with a religious faith."
In a description of the US-founded sect's beliefs, the group said its members believe in smacking their children though "we know that some people consider this aspect of our life controversial".
"We love our children and consider them precious and wonderful - because we love them we do spank them," the group said.
"When they are disobedient or intentionally hurtful to others we spank them with a small reed-like rod, which only inflicts pain and not damage."