In tragic global news, 300 bodies have been exhumed after being retrieved from mass graves located in southeast Kenya’s Shakahola forest. Nineteen of those bodies were exhumed on Tuesday, according to the Independent, and all of the deceased are believed to be the victims of self-proclaimed pastor and Good News International Church founder Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who was arrested in April and stands accused of inciting followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus.”
Officials in Kenya said they expect more discovered bodies to be exhumed. In fact, the death toll may rise to twice as many as the current figure of 303.
From the Independent:
More than 600 people are reportedly still missing and investigators are now expanding the search area. Earlier last month, Kenya’s interior ministry said at least 109 bodies had been retrieved from Shakahola. Most of them were children, local reports said.
The increase in the death toll comes as Mr Mackenzie’s lawyer George Kariuki said the pastor “eats and drinks” and was “healthy”, contrary to rumours that said he refused to eat.
Mr Mackenzie could face “possible terrorism charges”, Mr Kariuki was quoted as saying by local media.
He also faces other charges, including murder, kidnapping and cruelty towards children.
Mackenzie, who was denied bail following his arrest, has been denounced publicly and characterized by Kenya President William Ruto as a “terrible criminal” whose actions are “akin to terrorists.” The Good News International Church reportedly shut its doors four years ago after operating (or masquerading) as a holy place of worship for two decades.
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