Fox News Flash top headlines for April 23
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Kenyan police dug up dozens of bodies over the weekend on land owned by a cult leader who allegedly told his followers to starve themselves to death in order to go to heaven, police said.
At least 46 bodies have been exhumed from shallow unmarked graves in the Shakahola forest near Kilifi, a coastal town in eastern Kenya, according to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. The entire 800-acre forest has been sealed off and declared a crime scene.
Paul Makenzi, the pastor accused of leading the cult, was arrested on April 14. Makenzi was already under investigation after a 2019 arrest in connection with the deaths of children. He was arrested again in March, but was released on bond both times.
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Kenya police officers stand guard as Forensic experts and homicide detectives exhume bodies of suspected members of a Christian cult named as Good News International Church, who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves to death, in Shakahola forest of Kilifi county, Kenya April 22, 2023. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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A photograph shows an abandoned house in the forest where buried bodies have been exhumed in Shakahola, outside the coastal town of Malindi, on April 23, 2023. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Dozens of bodies have been exhumed in Kenya while investigating a cult whose followers are believed to have starved themselves to death. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
Four other people died after they were found starving last week at his Good News International Church. Police also found 11 emaciated people on the compound after members of the public tipped them off about the cult.
US EMBASSY PERSONNEL IN SUDAN EVACUATED AMID VIOLENT CONFLICT
Kenya is a highly religious country, with approximately 85.5% of Kenyans identifying as Christian and 11% as Muslim, according to the U.S. State Department.
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Police and local residents load the exhumed bodies of victims of a religious cult into the back of a truck in the village of Shakahola, near the coastal city of Malindi, in southeastern Kenya Sunday, April 23, 2023. (AP Photo)
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Kithure Kindiki, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior, called the cult an “abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship.”
“While the State remains respectful of religious freedom, this horrendous blight on our conscience must lead not only to the most severe punishment of the perpetrator(s) of the atrocity on so many innocent souls, but tighter regulation (including self-regulation) of every church, mosque, temple or synagogue going forward,” Kindiki said in a statement obtained by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Paul Best is a breaking news reporter for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. Story tips and ideas can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @KincaidBest.