Army informants cited in Tokyo gas hit probe

TOKYO — The cult suspected in the nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways had two informants in the army who tipped off the sect to police raids, the military said yesterday.

One of the soldiers also admitted staging a firebomb attack on the headquarters of the Sublime Truth sect the day before the subway killings to disrupt a police investigation of the group, officials said.

Fears of another attack grew, meanwhile, as the country prepared for a holiday week that begins today. Millions use the nation’s trains and highways to visit their hometowns or resort areas during the holidays.

The discovery of cult moles was a major embarrassment for the military, which had secretly trained and equipped the police before a series of raids on the cult.

Police have yet to make an arrest or name a suspect in the March 20 subway attack, which killed 12 people and sickened 5,500.

Cult leaders have denied any involvement. But raids at a cult commune have turned up chemicals that could be used to make sarin, the nerve gas released on the subways.

“It is highly likely that sarin was made” at the sect’s facilities, Kazuhiro Sugita, director of the National Police Agency’s Security Bureau, told government officials yesterday, according to the Kyodo News Service. ”And the possibility cannot be denied that sarin is still being stored.”

Police searched for a third day yesterday at a cult commune for a trapdoor that might lead them to Shoko Asahara, the cult’s founder.

The Defense Agency said the moles, two sergeants, leaked word to the cult that 400 airborne troops were mobilizing in advance of the March 22 police raids, officials said.

Sgt. Takahisa Shirai, 25, was expelled from the army for the firebomb attack on the cult headquarters and arrested on a related charge, officials said. Sgt. Shinya Asano, 26, resigned, and it was unclear if police planned to arrest him.

Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama went on national television yesterday to
announce that 60,000 police will be on special duty during the holiday week.

“We have come to the final stages of the investigation,” he said. “We are taking the utmost security measures.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Associated Press, via the Boston Globe, USA
Apr. 29, 1995

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday April 29, 1995.
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