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47 bodies found in three days amid probe into Kenya starvation cult

Police and local residents load the exhumed bodies of victims of a religious cult into the back of a truck in the village of Shakahola, Kenya Sunday, April 23, 2023
Police and local residents load the exhumed bodies of victims of a religious cult into the back of a truck in the village of Shakahola, Kenya Sunday, April 23, 2023 Copyright AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AFP, AP
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26 more corpses were uncovered by police in eastern Kenya on Sunday amid investigations into a cult whose leader allegedly told his followers to starve themselves in order to 'meet Jesus'.

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The bodies of a further 26 suspected cult members were found by police in Kenya on Sunday, on land owned by a pastor who was arrested for allegedly telling his followers to fast to death in order to "meet Jesus".

The latest discovery brings the number of discovered corpses linked to the movement up to 47. 

"Today we have exhumed 26 more bodies and this brings the total number of bodies from that place to 47," said the head of criminal investigations in the coastal town of Malindi, eastern Kenya, Charles Kamau.

On Saturday, police sources said 21 bodies had been exhumed in Kenya in a probe into a cult whose followers are believed to have starved themselves to death.

The investigation follows last month's arrest of Makenzie Nthenge, the leader of the Good News International Church who turned himself into police after two children starved to death in the custody of their parents, according to local media. 

Nthenge was later released on bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings (€637).

Police have asked a court for permission to hold the pastor in custody while investigations into the deaths of his followers continue.

AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
The exhumed bodies of victims of a religious cult are laid out in the village of Shakahola, near the coastal city of Malindi, in southern Kenya Sunday, April 23, 2023AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

A tipoff from members of the public led police to raid his property in Malindi, where they found 15 emaciated people, including four who later died. The followers said they were starving on the pastor's instructions in order to "meet Jesus".

Police had been told there were dozens of shallow graves spread across Makenzi’s farm and digging started on Friday.

Makenzi has been on hunger strike for the past four days while in police custody.

The pastor has been arrested twice before, in 2019 and in March of this year, in relation to the deaths of children. Each time, he was released on bond, and both cases are still proceeding through the court.

Local politicians have urged the court not to release him this time, decrying the spread of cults in the Malindi area.

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