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Sunday, 23 January, 2000, 18:46 GMT
Aum kidnap boy rescued

Police raid Police can raid the cult without a warrant

Police in Japan have rescued the kidnapped son of former Aum cult leader Shoko Asahara.

Two cult members have already been arrested in connnection with the seven-year-old boy's abduction on Friday.

Police say a group of six people, including two daughters of Asahara, were behind the kidnapping.

The boy was found unhurt at an inn in the hot spring resort of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture on Sunday, Kyodo News Service said.

Shoko Asahara Shoko Asahara: Cult distancing itself from former leader

The rescue came two days after he was snatched from premises belonging to the cult in the village of Asahi 100km (60 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

Police obtained arrest warrants on Saturday for two of Asahara's daughters, aged 18 and 16, in connection with the abduction.

They said the cult's followers view the 16-year-old girl as her father's successor.

Asahara, 44, who has four daughters and two sons, is currently in prison facing charges related to the poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995.


Police have arrested two cult members, Masaru Jingu, 30, and Satoshi Nagayama, 37, on suspicon of involvement in the kidnapping.

Their motive is uncertain, but correspondents say it could be related to a power struggle within the cult.

victims Twelve people were killed and thousands injured in the subway attack

Analysts say that moves by the cult's new leaders to change its name to Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, apologise for the Tokyo gas attack, and state publicly that Asahara was probably involved, have angered some hardliners.

Asahara has denied any involvement in the crimes committed by his followers.

The Japanese authorities have attempted to restrict the cult's activities.

Last November parliament passed legislation allowing police to inspect the group's facilities at any time.

In September, the cult was forced to close down several branch offices and two senior members were arrested on suspicion of confining a woman against her will.

The cult was stripped of most of its assets in 1996 when it was liquidated by court order, but has since amassed large funds through real estate purchases.

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18 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Aum cult blames leader for gas attack
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25 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Japanese sect's nerve gas plant destroyed
26 May 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Life sentence for Japan's 'Dr Death'

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