Japan executes sarin attack cult leader, six followers

The leader of the Japanese doomsday cult that carried out a deadly 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway was executed on Friday along with six of his followers, decades after the horrific crime.

Shoko Asahara, the charismatic near-blind leader of the Aum Shinrikyo sect, had been on death row for more than 10 years for crimes, including the nerve agent attack, which shocked the world and prompted a massive crackdown on the cult.

The hangings are the first executions in connection with the attack, which killed 13 people and injured thousands more. A further six cult followers remain on death row. The attack during the capital’s notoriously crowded rush hour paralysed Tokyo, turning it into a virtual warzone.

Members of the group released the chemical in liquid form at five points through the subway network. Though concerns about the Aum had already been raised, the attack prompted a massive crackdown on the cult’s headquarters in the foothills of Mount Fuji, where authorities discovered a plant capable of producing enough sarin to kill millions.

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