Outbreak of Amish gang war


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Police in Ohio are investigating an outbreak of gang violence in the usually placid Amish community.

A series of incidents across four rural counties where the church has a large following has seen groups of men barge into properties and drag the occupants into the street, where they are held down and their hair cut roughly. Victims have ranged from a 13-year-old girl to a 74-year-old man.

According to police reports, the 27 men who carried out one of the attacks shouted that they were part of the "Bergholz Clan". They then fled in a horse and carriage. The getaway vehicle has been impounded and is now being searched.

Fred Abdalla, a local sheriff, told reporters that he suspected the attacks are part of a spiralling dispute between rival congregations of the Amish, a fundamentalist branch of the Mennonite Church, whose followers wear pioneer-era clothing and shun modern technology and motor vehicles.

The removal of facial hair is particularly sensitive in the Amish community, since male members are required to have extravagant beards.