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The BBC's James Robbins in Uganda
"The authorities need international help and support"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Uganda
"The stench of death is the only clue to recent events"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Uganda cult arrest warrants issued
A wreath is placed at a burial site
A wreath is placed at a burial site
Authorities in Uganda have issued warrants for the arrest of six leaders of the doomsday religious cult on charges of murder.

The six are blamed for the death of almost 100 followers, but it is not known where they are or even if they are still alive.

Hundreds of members of the cult - the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God - were found dead in a burnt-out church in the south-western village of Kanungu last month.

The cult's handbook
The cult's handbook appears to offer few clues over the deaths
Suspicions that many had been murdered were strengthened when scores more bodies found elsewhere bore marks of violence.

The six leaders targetted include Joseph Kibwetere, known as the prophet of the cult, Credonia Mwerinde, a former prostitute known as its programmer, and Dominic Kataribabo, a former Roman Catholic priest.

Each has been initially charged with 10 counts of murder, although more charges are expected to follow.

International assistance

"We believe they are alive and in hiding," acting director of the Criminal Investigation Division Erasmus Opia, said.

"We have no evidence to the contrary."

Mr Opia said the authorities had contacted the international police criminal organisation, Interpol, for help tracking down the cult's leaders.

Around 400 members of the cult died in the fire on 17 March, but since then the bodies of hundreds of other people, including those of many women and children, have been found in mass graves on properties linked to members of the cult.

Warnings

In another development, the authorities in Kampala are reported to have sent local police a "very urgent" warning that the sect was said to be kidnapping children and burying those who died in mass graves.

The Associated Press (AP) news agency quoting official documents says police dismissed the kidnap warnings as "a little bit unfounded" and rejected the mass grave claim entirely.

The news agency says the documents did not indicate what the children had died of or how many had died.

Officials are reported to have investigated a sudden series of deaths among the cult's children at one of the movement's compounds in 1999 but were told they had died of malaria.

AP says the matter was dropped after police were given documents indicating that the cult was a legal non-governmental organisation.

There has been widespread speculation that the deaths followed the failure to come true of predictions of the end of the world.

Cult members, who were told to sell their possessions and give the proceeds to the movement, had been told that they would enter a new world "free of sorrow and misery."

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Uganda's death cults
Click on the stories below for more on Uganda's doomsday cult.
Key stories:
Cult's quiet life
Priest who murdered his flock
The preacher and the prostitute
Story in pictures
Why East Africa?
More on cults
When devotion means death
'Why I joined a cult'
Talking Point TALKING POINT
Should cults be banned?
Africa Contents

Country profiles
See also:

30 Mar 00 | Africa
Priest who 'murdered' his flock
20 Mar 00 | Africa
Analysis: Why East Africa?
18 Mar 00 | Africa
When devotion means death
20 Mar 00 | Media reports
Ugandan cult member's warning
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