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Parishioners angered by slow church fire probe

Authorities suspected of protecting culprit

Parishioners angered by slow church fire probe
The interior of the Caibang village church after the fire reporter, Wuhan

October 19, 2012

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Catholics in central China have accused local government officials of dragging their feet on investigating a fire which destroyed a parish church. The Caibang village church near Hubei’s Xiantao City was burned down on September 14. Local Catholics believe the fire was started deliberately. “The officials promised but there has been no substantial progress so far. They said that the investigation ‘needs time.’ It seems they are using delaying tactics and trying to bury the whole thing,” said one Church source who requested anonymity. The source added that the authorities only voiced concern over the fire after it was widely reported by international media and Chinese internet users. Other Church sources told today that they suspect the officials may be protecting someone. The church had been the only building left in the village after developers paid off local residents to move out last year, to make way for new apartments. The sources say authorities did not honor a verbal agreement to provide an alternative piece of land to relocate the church. “We appealed to the city government and the provincial religious affairs bureau for a settlement regarding the relocation of the property,” one of them said. Related report Catholics say church was destroyed by arsonists
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