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By Serafina Qalo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 5) - Division in a church boiled over on Saturday when a pastor accused four colleagues of assaulting him in front of his family and evicting him from the church compound.

Pastor Veresa Vatia of the Assemblies of God church said he suffered injuries to his left arm and a bruised left eye. He has reported the attack to police and media liaison officer northern Sergeant Ajay Nand said they were investigating the alleged assault at Naodamu, Labasa.

Mr. Vatia said four church members visited him at home about 4:30 p.m.

"They came with a stick and knife and to defend myself, I ran for a knife but put it aside after they came in peace. But after I put down the knife they attacked me with the stick as my family watched. They threw out all our things and my children and wife took them to my mother-in-law. I went to police and hospital where I got a medical report."

A spokesman for the group who refused to be identified said they did not assault Vatia. "He ran for the knife so two of us broke a branch and used it in self defense."

Senior church pastor Jerry Radrodro said he was not aware and refused to comment but said Vatia was entitled to live in the church quarters.

The church split in February after an argument during the annual general meeting. The new board of which Mr Vatia is a member, moved to Tuatua outside Labasa and set up a new church. They were sacked by AOG general superintendent Pastor Pita Cili but the new board took the matter to court and won the case.

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