TOKYO (AP) — The executions Friday of a doomsday cult leader and six of his followers closed a chapter on one of Japan’s most shocking crimes, the poison gas attack on rush-hour commuters in Tokyo’s subway that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000.
The attack in 1995 woke up a relatively safe country to the risk of urban terrorism. The ensuing raid on the cult’s compound near Mount Fuji riveted Japan, as 2,000 police officers approached with a canary in a bird cage. Shoko Asahara, the bearded, self-proclaimed guru who had recruited scientists and others to his cult, was found two months later, hiding in a compartment in a building ceiling. The executions of the 63-year-old Asahara and the six cult members were announced by the Justice Ministry after they had been hanged, as is the practice in Japan. Two major newspapers issued extra editions and handed them out at train stations.
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