The Associated Press

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March 31, 2000, Friday, AM cycle

1:18 PM Eastern Time

SECTION: International News

LENGTH: 440 words

HEADLINE: Other cult-related mass killings

BYLINE: By The Associated Press

   Ugandan police say more than 900 deaths have been linked to a Christian doomsday cult there. Other deadly cults were:

- On March 26, 1997, in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 39 members of a cult called Heaven's Gate were found dead at a rented mansion. They had poisoned themselves with a mixture of applesauce, vodka and barbiturates. The cultists left a video message saying they were shedding their "earthly containers" to join a spaceship trailing the Hale Bopp comet.

- On March 22, 1997, in St. Casimir, Quebec, five members of the Order of the Solar Temple die in a fiery mass suicide. Cult devotees believe suicide transports them to a new life on a planet called Sirius.

- On Dec. 23, 1995, 16 members of the Order of the Solar Temple were found dead in a burned house outside Grenoble, in the French Alps. Most of the bodies were arranged in a star shape on the floor.

- On Oct. 5, 1994, Swiss authorities found the bodies of 48 people linked to the same cult in a farmhouse and three chalets, all consumed by fire. Five more bodies were found the same year in Morin Heights, north of Montreal.

- On April 19, 1993, Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and 80 followers - including 18 children - died by fire or gunfire, six hours after the FBI started filling their cult compound near Waco, Texas, with tear gas. Federal officials called the deaths a mass suicide, but Branch Davidians are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the government.

- On Dec. 13, 1990, in Tijuana, Mexico, 12 people die in a religious ritual, apparently after drinking a poisoned sacrament. It was never clearly established if this was a suicide and authorities speculated the deaths might have been accidental. They said some kind of industrial alcohol, perhaps rubbing alcohol, was poured into a fruit punch the participants shared during the religious ceremony.

-On Aug. 29, 1987, in Yongin, South Korea, the bodies of 32 people were found in a factory attic after they took drugs and strangled each other. Authorities said factory owner Park Soon-ja, who died with the group, was called "Benevolent Mother" and had claimed God told her to seek disciples. Her sect preached that the world was about to come to an end.

- On Nov. 18, 1978, in Jonestown, Guyana, more than 900 followers of the Rev. Jim Jones died after he ordered them to drink cyanide-laced grape punch. Jones, who was found dead with a bullet wound in the head, led the Peoples Temple in San Francisco and moved it to Guyana. In the United States, the Peoples Temple ran a free clinic, a drug rehabilitation program and performed other charitable functions.


LOAD-DATE: March 31, 2000

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