The death toll from the “hunger cult” in Kenya rises to over 200 | world news

More than 200 deaths have been linked to a Kenyan cult that encouraged its followers to starve (Image: Reuters/AP)

More than 200 deaths have been linked to a Kenyan cult that encouraged its followers to starve (Image: Reuters/AP)

According to the Coastal Region Commissioner, the death toll linked to a doomsday cult in Kenya has reached 201 after police exhumed 22 more bodies, most of which showed signs of starvation.

The bodies are believed to be supporters of pastor Paul Mackenzie, who lives on the Kenyan coast.

He is said to have commanded believers to starve to meet Jesus.

More than 600 people are still missing.

FILE PHOTO: Paul Mackenzie, 50, a Kenyan cult leader accused of ordering his followers of Good News International Church members to starve themselves in the Shakahola forest, appears at the Malindi Law Court in Malindi May 2, 2023, Kenya . REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Cult leader Paul Mackenzie may face terrorism charges (Image: Reuters)

Police and local residents load the exhumed bodies of victims of a religious sect onto the back of a truck in the village of Shakahola near the coastal town of Malindi, southeast Kenya, Sunday, April 23, 2023. Dozens of bodies were thus discovered far away in shallow graves in a forest near the country of pastor Paul Mackenzie on the coast of Kenya, who was arrested for telling his followers to fast to death. (AP photo)

Hundreds of bodies were dug up from mass graves scattered across the cult leader’s 800-acre property (Image: AP)

Mackenzie, who was arrested last month, remains in custody.

Police plan to charge him with terrorism-related offences.

After a court date, his attorney George Kariuki appeared said CNN that his client “eats and drinks” and adds, “He’s healthy.” I met him personally.

“There were rumors that he refused to eat and that’s not true.”

Hundreds of bodies were dug up from dozens of mass graves scattered across his 800-acre property in the coastal district of Kilifi.

Mackenzie insists he closed his church in 2019 and moved to his property in a wooded area to farm.

Post-mortems performed on more than 100 bodies last week found the victims died of starvation, strangulation, asphyxiation and blunt-object injuries.

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Local media reported cases of missing internal body organs, citing investigators.

Mackenzie, his wife and 16 other suspects will appear in court later this month.

Coastal Region Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said Saturday the total number of those arrested was 26, with 610 people reported missing by their families.

It’s unclear how many survivors have been rescued so far in the search and rescue operations at Mackenzie’s vast property.

Some of them were too weak to walk when they were found.

Cults are widespread in Kenya, where there is a religious society.

Police across the country have questioned other religious leaders whose teachings are believed to be misleading and contrary to basic human rights.

President William Ruto last week set up a commission of inquiry to investigate how hundreds of people were lured to their deaths on the coast and to recommend action against institutions that failed to act.

Mr Ruto said his government has ordered crackdowns on “people who want to use religion to promote strange, unacceptable ideologies”.

Mackenzie had previously been charged with the deaths of children at his church in a case pending in court.

Nearby residents had sounded the alarm after his supporters moved into the wooded area.

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Justin Scaccy

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