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‘Starvation cult’ death toll at least 89 after more bodies dug up

After more bodies were found in a Kenyan jungle, the number of suspected victims of a starvation cult rose to at least 89.

The majority of the dead was found in shallow graves and mass graves. A few people were found emaciated, but they later died.

The local Red Cross reported that more than 200 missing persons had been reported.

In eastern Kenya, forensic teams have been searching an 800-acre site, where the Good News International Church used to be based. Body bags are being removed from the Shakahola Forest.


Images show palm-thatched huts with mud roofs scattered in the foliage and trees.

Pastor Paul Mackenzie is being held in custody on charges of telling people that they should starve themselves if they want to get to heaven.

Kenyan media reported that he refused food and water. He denied all wrongdoing.

Image: Paul Mackenzie (standing, middle) at a court in Malindi last week. Pic: AP
Pic: AP Photo: On Tuesday, more bodies were found. Pic: AP

Mackenzie, a member of the cult, was arrested by authorities on 14 April after an anonymous tip. Fourteen more cultists are being held.

Kithure Kindiki, the interior minister, said that 16 more bodies were exhumed Tuesday. This brings the total to 89.

The total number of people rescued is now 34. However, some cultists fled when the authorities arrived.

The majority of the people rescued could not walk or speak.

Image: Continued forensic searches at the site

The interior minister said: “We pray God will help these people to recover, and to tell their story about how a Kenyan, or a human being, hurt so many innocent people heartlessly while hiding behind the Holy Scriptures.”

The post-mortem examinations of the bodies will begin on Thursday.

Kenya’s Public Prosecutions Office said that it was examining possible charges, including murder, radicalisation, and threats to public safety.


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