Cult death toll rises after discovery of child corpses

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The Independent Online

The death toll in Uganda's doomsday cult murders rose to more than 800 yesterday after police dragged 53 more bodies, most of them children, from a trench hidden under the house of a leader of the sect.

Since Monday when digging began, first in the garden and then in the house of "Fr" Dominic Kataribabo at Rugazi in south-west Uganda, 155 corpses have been unearthed.

All the dead are believed to have been members - or the children of members - of the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God sect. Most, it appears, were strangled, although liver samples showed that some had been poisoned, according to a police pathologist.

Six hundred of the cult's followers were burnt alive on 17 March in a fire at their church in Kanungu in the same region.

The blaze, which reduced the church and its entire congregation to ashes, was originally believed to have been a mass suicide, but is now being treated as mass murder, orchestrated by the cult's leaders.

Yesterday hired labourers wearing white gloves had the grim task of carrying children's' heads and body parts out of the brick-built house in Rugazi. The bodies were all unrecognisable. Prisoners let out of a local jail dug deep into the ground and dragged out layer after layer of corpses using ropes and cords.

Local people said the cult founders, Fr Joseph Kibwetere, a defrocked Catholic priest, and Credonia Mwerinde, a prostitute turned prophetess, were frequent visitors to the house.

Fr Kataribabo is believed to have perished in the Kanungu fire, but Kibwetere and Mwerinde are thought to have fled.

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