TOKYO — Police yesterday raided facilities belonging to the cult accused of gassing Tokyo’s subways, seized thousands of weapons parts and arrested 21 cult members.
Two AK-47 rifles were found as well as 10,000 parts, enough to make about 1,000 guns, news reports said. It was the largest case of illegal weapons production ever in Japan, the Kyodo News Service said.
Most of the cult’s leaders and dozens of members have been arrested in the subway gassing and other crimes. They have denied wrongdoing. The March 20 attack killed 12 people and sickened thousands.
A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said five cult leaders still sought in the subway gassing do not appear to have been among those taken into custody yesterday.
The weapons were seized at the Supreme Truth cult’s main compound near Mount Fuji, one of 18 facilities raided yesterday.
In months of raids since the subway gassing, police have turned up tons of potentially deadly chemicals, military plans, drug factories, hidden rooms and furnaces where bodies may have been burned.
The cult’s leader, Shoko Asahara, who is in custody and will reportedly soon be charged in another fatal gassing in central Japan last year, predicted an all-out war in which only cult members would survive.
The guns were to be used in that war, the NHK public television network said.