Four Kenyans, told their work on Earth was done, fast to death, police say

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Fifteen “radicalized” Kenyan Christians were rescued on Friday from a fast which began after they were told they were going to meet their maker, but four died during the rescue mission, police said.

All 15 were members of the Good News International Church in the coastal county of Kilifi, police said.

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“In the process of rescuing the victims, four of them died,” police said in an incident report.

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Charles Kamau, the criminal investigations officer for Malindi sub-county, said the 15 had been radicalized.

“They starved after being radicalized by a certain member of a church told them that their work in this world was done... and they were waiting to die and see their creator,” he said on Citizen Television.

Cases of Christian worshippers being misled by pastors have cropped up sporadically in the past.

The emaciated survivors, who were in a critical condition, were taken to hospital where most of them were stabilized, said David Mang’ong’o, the medical superintendent at Malindi sub-district hospital.

Police were investigating reports of more victims, they said in the report.

They blamed the extreme fasting on a church member who was arrested last month and later released in connection with the deaths of two boys in the same area. They named him as Makenzie Nthenge.

It was not immediately clear if Nthenge had been rearrested. Nthenge was not available for comment.

In a March 23 affidavit, police said the parents had starved and suffocated the two boys on Nthenge’s advice.

Police asked the judge to detain Nthenge because he could be in danger himself for “having caused many people to lose their lives with (the) pretense that they were going to heaven (if) they die through starvation,” the affidavit said.

During a court appearance in that case, Nthenge said he was unaware of the events that led to the deaths of the two boys, adding he was the target of hostile propaganda from some of his former colleagues, The Standard newspaper reported.

The judge released him on bail.

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