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Kenya ‘starvation cult’ death toll rises to at least 89 after more bodies dug up | World News

The number of victims of a suspected starvation cult has risen to at least 89 after more bodies were dug up in a Kenyan forest.

Most of the dead were found in shallow single and mass graves, while a few were found emaciated but later died.

There are fears the death toll could rise further as the local Red Cross said more than 200 people had been reported missing.

Forensic teams have been scouring an 800-acre site where the Good News International Church was based, with body bags being carried away from the Shakahola forest, in eastern Kenya.

Pictures show mud huts with palm-thatched roofs scattered among the trees and foliage.

The church’s alleged leader, pastor Paul Mackenzie, is in custody and is accused of telling people to starve themselves to go to heaven.

He has denied any wrongdoing and Kenyan media reported he was refusing food and water.

Image:
Paul Mackenzie (standing, middle) at a court in Malindi last week. Pic: AP
Pic: AP
Image:
More bodies were discovered on Tuesday. Pic: AP

Mackenzie was arrested on 14 April when the site in Kilifi county was raided after a tip-off. Fourteen other cult members are also being held.

Interior minister Kithure Kindiki said another 16 bodies were exhumed on Tuesday, taking the number of dead to 89.

Three more people were rescued alive – bringing that total to 34 – but some cult members fled when authorities arrived.

Most of those rescued were unable to walk or talk.

Forensic searches continue at the site
Image:
Forensic searches continue at the site

“We pray that God will help them to go through the trauma, to help them recover and tell the story of how one time a fellow Kenyan, a fellow human, decided to hurt so many people, heartlessly, hiding under the Holy Scriptures,” said the interior minister.

Post-mortem examinations on the bodies are due to start on Thursday.

Kenya’s public prosecutions office said it was looking at possible charges including murder, radicalisation and threatening public safety.

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