Ancient Samaritan sect marks Passover sacrifice

Dressed in white and spattered in blood, members of the tiny Samaritan sect gathered until the early hours of Tuesday for one of the Holy Land's most colorful religious ceremonies - the nighttime Passover sacrifice. The entire Samaritan community, which totals just over 700 people, was present for the sacrifice at the sect's holiest place, Mt. Gerizim, near Nablus. Like Pessah, which was celebrated in early April, the Samaritan holiday marks the Israelite exodus from Egypt as recounted in the Tanach. The Samaritans practice a religion closely linked to Judaism and venerate a version of the Old Testament, but are not Jews, and have a different religious calendar.