Kenyan police said Saturday they have arrested a local cult leader following the death of four followers he reportedly told to starve themselves in order to “meet Jesus”.
Eleven other followers of the Good News International Church led by Makenzie Nthenge were taken to hospital, three of them in critical condition, after being rescued Friday in the Shakahola forest near the town of Malindi.
Police said they feared more victims would be discovered.
“The pastor is under arrest after he surrendered because he knew we were looking for him,” said Charles Kamau, criminal investigations chief of Malindi sub-county.
He was taken into custody, ahead of a court appearance scheduled for Monday.
Police raided the forest on the Kenyan coast on Friday after receiving reports of “ignorant citizens starving to death under the pretext of meeting Jesus after being brainwashed by a suspect, Makenzie Nthenge, a pastor of Good News International Church”.
The four dead have not yet been identified.
The 11 taken to the hospital were seven men and four women aged between 17 and 49, the report said.
Only two of them remained in the hospital on Saturday morning, hospital administrator Said Ali told AFP.
Some of the nine people who left had refused to take medicine or food offered to them, he said.
Investigators were expected to continue their search in the Shakahola forest on Saturday amid reports of a possible mass grave where other followers could be buried.
“It is further suspected that there are many victims in the forest land believed to belong to the suspect,” the police report said.
Local media reported that Nthenge was arrested and charged last month after two children were starved to death in the custody of their parents.
He was later released on bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($700).
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