19 new bodies recovered in Kenya doomsday cult, pushing death toll past 300

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The death toll in an investigation linked to a Kenyan cult that practiced starvation┬áto “meet Jesus Christ” has surpassed 300 after 19 new bodies were found Tuesday, a senior official said. Police believe most of the bodies found in a forest near the Indian Ocean town of Malindi belong to followers of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, a taxi driver-turned-preacher who has been in police custody since April 14.

He is due to face charges of “terrorism” in the case which has rocked the East African nation.

“The death toll has now risen to 303 after the 19 bodies were exhumed,” regional commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said.

The toll remains provisional, and the authorities in the East African country fear the true number of dead could be much higher. The search for mass graves is still underway in the Shakahola forest, where the first victims — some dead, others alive but weakened and emaciated — were discovered on April 13.

Since then, the series of grim discoveries have revealed a macabre scandal, dubbed the “Shakahola forest massacre”. More than 600 people have been reported missing by concerned relatives.

Police believe that most of the bodies exhumed were those of Good News International Church followers, an evangelical sect founded in 2003 by the self-proclaimed “pastor” Mackenzie, who advocated fasting until death in order to “meet Jesus”.

The 50-year-old founder of the Good News International Church turned himself in on April 14, after police acting on a tip-off first entered Shakahola forest. While starvation appears to be the main cause of death, some of the victims — including children — were strangled, beaten or suffocated, according to chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor.

Content retrieved from: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kenya-doomsday-cult-19-new-bodies-death-toll-more-than-300/.

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