(Reuters) – The death toll among followers of a Kenyan cult called the Good News International Church, who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves, has risen to over 100 and could rise further, Kenyan authorities said.
The following are some of the deadliest cult-related incidents in recent history.
UGANDA, MARCH 2000
A doomsday cult, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments, burns nearly 800 followers alive in a locked church after its prediction that the world would end at the start of 2000 fails to come true.
UNITED STATES, MARCH 1997
Thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult commit suicide in a suburb of San Diego, California, to coincide with the passage of Comet Hale-Bopp in the belief that the celestial event is the moment when they must depart Earth.
FRANCE, DECEMBER 1995
The charred bodies of 14 members of the Order of the Solar Temple, an apocalyptic cult, are found on the remote Vercors plateau in eastern France. This follows the deaths of 53 other members of the cult in Switzerland and Canada the previous year.
JAPAN, MARCH 1995
The Aum Shinrikyo, or Aum Supreme Truth cult, stages a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subway trains during rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring at least 5,800.
SWITZERLAND AND CANADA, OCTOBER 1994
Mystery fires in two Swiss villages kill 48 members of the Order of the Solar Temple, and another five die in Quebec. Many of the dead are clad in black and red cloaks and have bullet wounds to the head. The cult leaders are among the dead.
VIETNAM, OCTOBER 1993
Fifty-three hill tribe villagers in a remote Vietnamese hamlet commit mass suicide after being duped by local man Ca Van Liem, who solicited cash donations in return for promises of a speedy road to paradise.
UNITED STATES, APRIL 1993
A gunfight between federal agents and members of the Branch Davidian cult at their compound in Waco, Texas, is followed by a 51-day siege that ends in a huge blaze as security forces try to storm the compound. The chain of events leaves 82 cult members, including leader David Koresh, and four agents dead.
GUYANA, NOVEMBER 1978
More than 900 followers of the Peoples Temple cult die after their American leader Jim Jones orders followers to poison themselves at his self-styled Jonestown headquarters in Guyana by drinking a cyanide-laced fruit drink. Those who refuse are shot.
Photo: Kenyan homicide detectives and forensic experts from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), examine exhumed bodies from several shallow mass graves of suspected members of a Christian cult after starving themselves to death, after allegedly being told by their controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie that they would go to heaven if they starved themselves to death, in the coastal Shakahola forest, in Kilifi, Kenya. EPA-EFE/STR