Death toll from religious cult in Kenya rises to 133

NAIROBI, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan police on Tuesday exhumed 21 more bodies from a suspected cult grave in the coastal town of Malindi.

(File photo: AP)

The police said so far 133 bodies have been exhumed since the discovery of the mass graves on a piece of land at Shakahola forest in late April.

The police investigators who resumed the search for more mass graves on Tuesday said most of the victims were children who were told by a self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge to starve themselves in order to "meet Jesus."

The police raided Nthenge's property in mid-April after receiving a tip-off from members of the public where they found emaciated people. The victims were starving after being informed this was part of the way to go and "meet Jesus."

Kithure Kindiki, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Interior and National Administration, said on Tuesday that the exhumation process will be carried out carefully to protect the dignity and privacy of the families of the deceased persons.

He said the search and rescue efforts are ongoing with 65 persons having been rescued from the thickets so far, including two who were evacuated Tuesday morning by the police investigators.

Kenyan President William Ruto who has described the incident as terrorism announced on Friday the formation of a commission of inquiry into the mass deaths.