Waco siege

19/4/19

The siege by law-enforcement of a religious commune outside Waco, Texas in the spring of 1993, ended 25 years ago today with a fire and the deaths of 76 men women and children inside the building. The commune was run by a self-proclaimed messiah, David Koresh, as part of the Branch Davidian christian sect and they had gathered there under his leadership expecting the second coming of Christ.

There were reports of abuse - both sexual and physical - of people being held against their will along with further reports of large numbers of illegal weapons being held in the remote ranch. The authorities eventually decided to act. Unfortunately 4 agents and 6 BD's were killed in a gun battle when they attempted to raid the property. There followed a 51 day siege by the FBI, AFT and other law enforcement groups whilst they tried to negotiate the commune's surrender. Unfortunately Koresh and his followers were negotiating from a religious standpoint - expecting the second coming and the end of the world - whereas the police looked at it from a traditional kidnapping/hostage point of view. Both were talking past each other without really understanding.

Eventually the FBI lost patience and assaulted the building which caught on fire in the confusion, killing almost everyone inside including Koresh. Several British citizens were caught up in the events, having been persuaded by Koresh to follow him when he had visited the UK a few years before. There is an excellent BBC radio documentary which interviews survivors and relatives to piece together the story.

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