Kenyan police are investigating the deaths of four people suspected to have starved to death on the orders of the leader of a controversial cult.
Pastor Makenzie Nthenge is alleged to have told his followers in the coastal area of Kilifi to starve themselves in the hope of getting to heaven quickly.
Following a tip-off, police found 15 seriously ill people on Thursday, but only 11 made it to hospital alive.
Police are also looking into reports of a mass grave in a nearby forest.
Last month Mr Nthenge was charged in connection with the deaths of two children whose parents had joined his Good News International Church.
He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail. The current whereabouts of the pastor are not clear.
The identities of those who died on Thursday have not yet been established.
Some of the survivors, including a teenager, are currently in a critical condition having become so emaciated.
A security source told Kenya’s Nation Media group that those rescued from their homes were extremely unwell: “We found them in a very bad state, others fainted on the way to hospital.”
Police said they began their search for followers of the Good News International Church after receiving intelligence that “ignorant citizens” were “starving to death in pretext to meet Jesus after being brainwashed by a suspect”.
They were also warned about “a mass shallow grave of victims of that brainwashing totalling to 31 bodies in an unidentified place at Shakahola Forest”, the police statement said.
Kenya is a religious country and this is not the first time people have been lured into joining dangerous, unregulated churches or cults.
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