Kenya continues to sink into horror at the announcement of the successive results of the "Shakahola massacre". The latest now stands at 201 dead after the discovery Saturday of 22 new bodies in a forest in the southeast of the country, where a sect whose leader advocated fasting to "meet Jesus", announced the prefect of the region.

Police believe that most of the bodies found near the coastal town of Malindi are those of followers of the sect of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, a former taxi driver and self-proclaimed "pastor" of the Good News International Church he founded. Investigators will halt exhumations over the next two days to reorganize their operations, which are expected to resume Tuesday.

Some 26 people arrested

The region's prefect, Rhoda Onyancha, said 26 people had been arrested so far, including Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and a "gang of henchmen" tasked with checking that no followers broke the fast or escaped from the forest. Paul Mackenzie surrendered to authorities on April 14, after police discovered the first victims in Shakahola Forest. About fifty mass graves have since been discovered.

Autopsies performed on the first bodies indicate that most of the victims died of starvation, presumably after following the sermons of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie. Some victims, including children, were strangled, beaten or suffocated, the head of forensic operations, Johansen Oduor, said recently.

The debate on the supervision of religions revived

The massacre has revived the debate on the regulation of worship in Kenya, a predominantly Christian country with 4,000 "churches," according to official figures. President William Ruto also established a task force to "review the legal and regulatory framework governing religious organizations."

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