RUGAZI, Uganda -- Ugandan investigators pulled the last of 81 tangled corpses from a mass grave hidden under a doomsday sect leader's former home today, bringing the cult's death toll to at least 673.
Crammed limb across limb beneath the concrete floor of a 10-foot-by-10-foot room, 53 bodies were removed today. Many of the victims appeared to have been strangled -- knotted cloths still ringed their necks.
The mass grave was found Tuesday in a house that belonged to Dominic Kataribabo, an excommunicated Roman Catholic priest and a leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, until three weeks ago. Seventy-four more strangled, mutilated bodies were uncovered Monday in a pit in a sugar cane field on the property.
Authorities believe the sect's leaders are responsible for one of the largest mass murders in recent history. The victims have been discovered in three compounds in southwestern Uganda that once belonged to the group.
The sect had up to 1,000 members, and officials believe they make up most of the dead, though the identities of the victims remain mostly unknown. Five other compounds belonging to the sect have not yet been examined, police spokesman Assuman Mugenyi said.
Scenes of horror linked to the apocalyptic sect have emerged since March 17, when fire engulfed the chapel of a compound in nearby Kahunga.
At least 330 people burned to death. Kataribabo, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest, is believed to have been among the dead -- a body thought to be the 64-year-old's was found in the ruins, still wearing a clerical collar.
Authorities initially called the conflagration a mass suicide. But within days, investigators discovered six strangled, mutilated corpses in the latrine of the compound, triggering a murder investigation.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.