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ASIA > Japan arrests 1995 sarin attack cult member: report

TOKYO - The Associated Press

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Naoko Kikuchi, a former senior member of AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult wanted in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack is shown.

Naoko Kikuchi, a former senior member of AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult wanted in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack is shown.

One of the two remaining fugitive members of the doomsday cult behind the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways was arrested today, Japanese media reports said.

Former senior Aum Shinrikyo cult member Naoko Kikuchi, 40, had been spotted in Sagamihara city, 30 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, and acknowledged who she was when approached by police, according to NHK TV and other media reports, citing investigative sources. She was wanted on charges of murder in the 1995 attack.

Police declined to confirm the reports.

Cult members, who had amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in anticipation of an apocalyptic showdown with the government, released the nerve gas sarin in Tokyo's subways, killing 13 people and injuring more than 6,000.

Nearly 200 members of the cult have been convicted in the gas attack and dozens of other crimes. Cult guru Shoko Asahara is still on death row.

Makoto Hirata, suspected of involvement in a 1995 cult-related kidnapping-murder, surrendered to police on New Year's Eve, stunning Japan. Ten days later, Akemi Saito, also a member of Aum Shinrikyo, who had lived with Hirata, gave herself up.

The other cult member still on the run is Katsuya Takahashi, 54.

The cult, renamed Aleph, once had 10,000 members in Japan and claimed another 30,000 in Russia. It still has hundreds of members. The cult is under police surveillance and its new leaders have publicly disavowed Asahara.

June/03/2012

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