Asia

Japan 'doomsday cult member' held

  • 3 June 2012
  • From the section Asia
Undated photo of, Naoko Kikuchi, a former senior member of Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult wanted in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack.
Japanese police have been looking for Naoko Kikuchi for 17 years

A woman who may be a Japanese cult member wanted over the deadly 1995 gas attacks on the Tokyo subway has been arrested, Japanese media say.

They say Naoko Kikuchi, a 40-year-old ex-member of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, was picked up in Sagamihara, west of Tokyo, on Sunday.

Police said they could not confirm the reports.

Ms Kikuchi is one of two Aum Shinrikyo members still at large. Twelve people died in the 1995 Tokyo attacks.

Hundreds of others were injured when the cult released sarin nerve gas on several trains during rush hour.

On New Year's Eve another former member of Aum Shinrikyo, Makoto Hirata, turned himself in to police after nearly 17 years on the run.

Nearly 200 Aum Shinrikyo members have been convicted in connection with the sarin attack and other crimes. Thirteen are awaiting execution.

Aum Shinrikyo began as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in the 1980s, but developed into a paranoid cult obsessed with Armageddon.

Cult leader Shoko Asahara is among those on death row.

Aum Shinrikyo reinvented itself as the Aleph group, which continues to operate as a spiritual group.

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