Police raid sect and find starving people

TOKYO POISON TERROR

FROM PH FERGUSON

of Associated Press

Kamiku-Isshiki - "Don't look at me," the dishevelled man shouted at onlookers, his head covered by an aviator's helmet with wires protruding.

The police raid on the mysterious sect's ramshackle compound in the forested foothills of Mount Fuji netted chemical tanks, industrial equipment - and dozens of cult followers left dazed or unconscious, apparently from malnutrition.

As officers wearing gas masks prepared before dawn to move in, red lights and spotlights lit up the forest. Police had advanced gas-sniffing machines, but used a lower-tech method: they carried canaries, whose deaths would warn of toxic fumes.

Those fears were unfounded. Police quickly seized control of the compound, and had secured it within two hours, meeting almost no resistance. From one of the second-floor windows, occupants recorded the police entry with video cameras.

Country roads leading to the compound resembled a supply route for a battle, with canopied trucks, buses with grilles over the windows, armoured trucks and water cannon. Convoys of more than 100 police vehicles and 1,000 men converged near Lake Motosuko, a scenic tourist spot. They fanned out to 11 separate sites in Kamiku-Isshiki, 70 miles west of Tokyo.

The show of force was in sharp contrast to the peaceful, rural setting. An entrance to one small plot of land had a handwritten sign advertising flowers for sale. When word came to move, police strapped on gas masks, climbed into protective gear and formed columns. They moved swiftly into the compound three abreast, their riot shields held high.

Inside the filthy, hodgepodge warehouse compound, several bizarrely-dressed sect members walked aimlessly about. One man wore what looked like an aviator's helmet with wires protruding from electrodes stuck to it. A pregnant woman, in a dirt-stained white butcher's smock, wandered nearby, appearing disoriented. Another woman wore a purple woollen hat with wires protruding from underneath.

The compound's grounds were littered with electrical and industrial equipment, including gas or chemical tanks, and thick cables that resembled part of a large-scale chemical exhaust system. Soon after police arrived, at least a dozen ambulances were summoned. Police and medical personnel began carrying out the first of about 50 people on cloth stretchers.

Doctors said they appeared to be suffering from malnutrition, and at least six were hospitalised. As the ambulances pulled away, some young sect members stood by and wept.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Graphics

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Part time Design and Technology...

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Head of Department - English

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Head of Department for English. Wiltsh...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits