Bodies of three kids found in mass graves as death toll of Kenyan cult rises

The death toll from a Christian cult in Kenya that practiced starvation has risen to 83.

At least 10 more bodies, including of three children, have been recovered from the mass graves in the Shakahola forest, in the south-east of the country, today.

A major search is underway in the woodland near the coastal town of Malindi after police received a tip-off about a cult led by Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, who urged his followers to starve to death in order to find God.

There are fears the number of victims may grow as the Red Cross has said that 112 people have been reported missing.

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Emergency workers in white jumpsuits exhumed the remains of 10 cultists from shallow graves and also found two emaciated survivors.

It is believed that some followers could still be hiding in bushes around the forest and are at risk of death if not quickly found.

Kenya’s president William Ruto pledged a crackdown on ‘unacceptable’ religious movements as police continue to comb over the 325-hectare area.

Police arrested Nthenge, the leader of the extreme sect Good News International Church, who has denied wrongdoing. 

Questions have been raised about how the televangelist has been permitted to operate.

He had been arrested in 2017 on charges of ‘radicalisation’ after urging families not to send their children to school, saying education was not recognised by the Bible.

Nthenge was arrested again last month, according to local media, after two kids starved to death in the custody of their parents.

Charles Kamau, head detective in Malindi, said three more people had also been arrested, without giving further details.

Hussein Khalid, executive director of the rights group Haki Africa that tipped off the police, said: ‘Each day that passes by there is very high possibility that more are dying.

‘The horror that we have seen over the last four days is traumatising. Nothing prepares you for shallow mass graves of children.’

So many bodies have been exhumed that authorities at the Malindi Sub-County Hospital warned that the morgue is now running out of space to store them and is already operating well over capacity.

‘The hospital mortuary has a capacity of 40 bodies,’ said administrator Said Ali, adding that officials had reached out to the Red Cross for refrigerated containers.

All together, 29 people have been rescued and hospitalised as Kenyan authorities uncover the true scale of what is being dubbed the ‘Shakahola Forest Massacre’.

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