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Four Japan Cultists Arrested in Shooting

July 7, 2004

TOKYO (AP) _ Four members of a Japanese doomsday cult were arrested Wednesday in connection with the shooting of the national police chief nine years ago, authorities said.

Takaji Kunimatsu was shot and seriously wounded while investigating Aum Shinrikyo, the cult later held responsible for the nerve gas attack on Japan’s subway system that killed 12 people, injured thousands and crushed the country’s sense of safety. He was shot 10 days after the subway attack in March 1995.

Tokyo police on Wednesday arrested three cult members on allegations of attempted murder, police official Tsutomu Nagai told a news conference.

The three conspired with several other unidentified attackers, who have yet to be arrested, in the attempted assassination, Nagai said.

Police arrested a fourth cultist for allegedly trying to set explosives at home of one of the group’s critics and for possible involvement in the shooting.

Kosugi, who was a policeman at the time of the attack, confessed to the shooting over a year later, in an embarrassment for the police force. But prosecutors later dropped the case, saying they had no evidence to back it up.

The National Police Agency chief nearly died after being shot three times on March 30, 1995, when he left his downtown Tokyo apartment for work.

Aum founder Shoko Asahara was sentenced to hang in April for masterminding the subway attack and about a dozen other cult crimes. Eleven other cult members also have been sentenced to death for the subway attack.

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