Japan cult threatens `disaster'

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The Independent Online
Tokyo (Reuter) - Warnings by a member of the Aum Shinri Kyo doomsday cult of an impending disaster, on a scale far greater than the Kobe earthquake, triggered a new security scare yesterday.

In a sign of the nervousness that has gripped Japan since the Tokyo poison gas attack, linked to the cult, police announced a massive security operation lasting three days, starting today.

The warning that an unspecified disaster would strike tomorrow was made during a television interview with an unidentified member of Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth), the group police believe responsible for nerve gas attacks on the Tokyo underground on 20 March which killed 11 people and left more than 5,000 ill.

The man, whose face was not shown, said Aum's founder, Shoko Asahara, had predicted that tomorrow's event "will make the Kobe earthquake seem as minor as a fly landing on one's cheek". He gave no details. In the January earthquake, which the sect member said Mr Asahara had predicted, about 5,500 people died.