(Malindi) The first autopsies carried out Monday on 10 of the 109 victims found in a forest in southeastern Kenya, where a sect met, revealed deaths caused by hunger but also by asphyxiation, announced the head of medical operations. -legal.

On that first day, doctors autopsied nine bodies of children aged one to 10 and one of a woman, the head of the national forensic services, Dr Johansen Oduor, told reporters.

“Most of them had starvation characteristics. We saw features of people who didn’t eat, there was no food in the stomach, the fat layer was very thin,” he said.

Two children, however, showed signs of death by asphyxiation. “From what we hear, there are indications that they [the children] were suffocated. This can be one of the causes of asphyxiation. This was [the case] in two children,” he said.

“All the bodies are decomposed and this makes it difficult for us to calculate the date of death,” he added, also specifying that “no organs were missing”.

Full DNA identification results may not be known for “months,” Dr. Oduor said.

Autopsies and identification operations began Monday at the morgue of the district hospital in the coastal town of Malindi.

At least 109 people, the majority of them children, died in the Shakahola forest where followers of a sect called the International Church of Good News gathered, according to a still provisional report.

The search for bodies and mass graves in this forest was suspended on Monday due to heavy rains.

These autopsies are a “crucial step”, which “should take about a week if all goes well”, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said on Monday.

Investigators suspect that many followers died of starvation after following the precepts of the sect’s self-proclaimed pastor, Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, who advocated fasting to death “to meet Jesus”.

But “preliminary reports we are getting indicate that some of the victims may not have starved to death,” Kindiki said on Friday, noting that some bodies bore wounds.

Shocked after the revelation of what is now called the ‘Shakahola Forest Massacre’, Kenya saw the case take an unexpected turn on Thursday with the arrest of one of the country’s most famous pastors, Ezekiel Odero , suspected of being linked to it.

“There is credible information linking the exhumed bodies…at Shakahola” with “several innocent and vulnerable followers [of the Odero Church] who are believed to have died,” prosecutors say in a court document seen by the court on Friday. AFP.

The two pastors, currently detained, are due to appear in courts in two different cities on Tuesday.