German police have raided a Christian sect, removing 40 children. Authorities have said the "Twelve Tribes" group is accused of beating and abusing the children, German media reported.
More than 100 police officers targeted two sites used by the sect in a dawn raid in the southern German state of Bavaria on Thursday.
Acting under a court order police removed 28 children from Kloster Zimmern, a former monastery near the town of Deiningen. A further 12 were taken from a second location in Germany.
According to local officials the raids followed "new evidence pointing to significant and ongoing child abuse by the members." The group has denied the allegations.
All 40 children are now being cared for temporarily by foster families while the claims are investigated.
The German branch of the "Twelve Tribes," originally founded in the United States, is well known to local authorities, primarily for its refusal to enroll children in public schools. It contends that sex education there is un-Christian.
Male members of the group were arrested in 2004 for refusing to send their children to school. They later set up their own school, although authorities said it lost its licence on July 31.
ccp/hc (AFP, dpa, epd)