Kenyan police have now recovered 73 bodies, mostly from mass graves in a forest in eastern Kenya, thought to be followers of a Christian cult who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves.
The death toll, which has repeatedly risen as exhumations have been carried out, could rise further. The Kenyan Red Cross said 112 people have been reported missing to a tracing and counselling desk it has set up at a local hospital.
In a statement on Monday, Japhet Koome Inspector General of police in Kenya said the bodies were exhumed from shallow graves in the disturbing scene, adding that 29 people had been rescued.
He said the investigation had so far indicated that Nthenge’s victims were subjected to extreme religious beliefs, characterized by fasting and starvation to death, as their unorthodox means to meet their maker.
Koome assured that “all those culpable shall face the law” and added that rescue missions were ongoing.
Charles Kamau, head detective in Malindi, Kilifi County, said that “the death toll now stands at 73 people.”
According to the report, Kamau said three more persons had been arrested.
President William Ruto described Nthenge, the cult leader, as a terrible criminal under the guise of religion.
He said he had instructed relevant agencies to get to the root cause of what had happened and to tackle “people who want to use religion to advance weird, unacceptable ideology in the Republic of Kenya that is causing unnecessary loss of life”.