Spanish police foil mass suicide

Spanish police say they have prevented a possible collective suicide attempt by members of a cult based in Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands.

The authorities in Tenerife say the 31 members of the cult, who are mostly German, were planning to commit suicide later today.

Police have detained a German psychologist said to be the leader of the sect. From the Spanish capital Joanne Episcopo reports.

According to police reports, the 31 members of the cult believed the world was going to end at 19:00 hours on Thursday and that a space ship would pick them up on the Teidi Mountain on the island of Tenerife. The authorities say the mass suicide attempt was avoided after police raided a number of buildings on Wednesday night on the island.

A German psychologist Heidi Fittkau-Garthe, believed to be the ringleader of the sect, has been detained by the local authorities on charges of organising an alleged attempt of mass suicide. Police in Tenerife say four children were among the possible victims of the suicide attempt.

It is not clear exactly which cult the members belong to, although police say it could be linked to one known as the Solar Temple, which has been responsible for collective suicides in Canada, France and Switzerland. The Spanish island of Tenerife is a popular holiday resort and is also home to a large number of foreign residents.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 9, 1998.
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