The death toll linked to a doomsday cult in Kenya reached 201 on Saturday after police unearthed 22 more bodies, most of them with signs of starvation, according to the coastal region’s commissioner.
The remains are believed to be those of followers of a pastor based on the coast of Kenya, Paul Mackenzie. He was accused of ordering congregants to starve to death in order to meet Jesus.
More than 600 people are still missing.
Mackenzie, who was arrested last month, remains in custody. The police plan to charge him with terrorism-related offenses.
Hundreds of bodies were exhumed from mass graves spread across his 800-acre property, located on the Kilifi coast.
Mackenzie insists that he closed his church in 2019 and moved to his property in a forest to farm.
Autopsies performed on more than 100 bodies last week showed that the victims died of starvation, strangulation, suffocation and injuries sustained from blunt objects.
Local media outlets have reported cases of missing internal body organs, citing investigators in the case.
Mackenzie, his wife and 16 other suspects will appear in court at the end of the month.
Coast regional commissioner Rhoda Onyancha on Saturday said the total number of those arrested was 26, with 610 people reported missing by their families.
It is unclear how many survivors have been rescued from search and rescue operations across Mackenzie’s sprawling property. Some of them were too weak to walk when they were found.
Cults are common in Kenya, which has a religious society.
Police across the country are questioning other religious leaders whose teachings are believed to be misleading and against basic human rights.
President William Ruto last week set up a commission of inquiry to investigate how hundreds of people were lured to their deaths on the beach and recommended action on institutions that failed to act.
Mackenzie was previously accused in the deaths of children at his church in a case that is still pending in court. Residents nearby were alarmed after his followers moved into the forest.