The latest bodies recovered at a doomsday cult in Kenya push the death toll there past 300, reports ABC News. Authorities warn that the death toll will end up much higher and have the cult's alleged leader, a former taxi driver named Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, in custody.
The search for mass graves is still underway in the Shakahola forest, where the first victims — some dead, others alive but weakened and emaciated — were discovered on April 13. Since then, the series of grim discoveries have revealed a macabre scandal, dubbed the "Shakahola forest massacre". More than 600 people have been reported missing by concerned relatives. Police believe that most of the bodies exhumed were those of Good News International Church followers, an evangelical sect founded in 2003 by the self-proclaimed "pastor" Mackenzie, who advocated fasting until death in order to "meet Jesus".
Starvation is the reported cause of death in most cases, but this is not a case of mass suicide: a government pathologist told media that many of the victims were beaten and choked to death. The Sunday Times reported that children were targeted first.
Mr Katana – who is helping police with the investigation – also described to the Sunday Times the alleged brutal treatment of the children, saying they were shut in huts for five days without food or water.
"Then they wrapped them in blankets and buried them, even the ones still breathing," he was quoted as saying.
It is alleged that the cult followers were told they would reach heaven faster if they starved to death.
The BBC also found Mackenzie's archived sermons.
In a passionate, raspy voice, Pastor Mackenzie delivers his sermons to large congregations in thrall to his apocalyptic themes.
"We are about to win the battle… let no-one turn back… the journey is about to be accomplished," reads a banner across the screen.
One series of videos on his church's YouTube channel has the caption: "End Time Kids" and shows groups of young children delivering messages to the camera.