Japanese police find gun parts in sect's car


TOKYO -- Police found parts of 10 guns yesterday in a car belonging to the religious sect linked to the nerve-agent attack on the Tokyo subway system last month.

Security has been tightened throughout Japan since the attack. In Tokyo, 10,000 police officers have been assigned to such security duties as protecting government officials, newspapers here report.

The sense of alarm has deepened with reports in one newspaper, the Yomiuri, that notebooks seized from one member of the Aum Shin Rikyo sect were labeled "War with Police."

The sect has denied any involvement in criminal activity, saying it is simply a Buddhist organization that the Japanese police and U.S. military have been trying to suppress.

Discovery of the gun parts and notebooks fuels suspicions that Aum Shin Rikyo was involved in the shooting a week ago of the head of Japan's National Police Agency.

Television stations reported yesterday that police think the gunman may have been a foreigner with military training, presumably acting at the behest of a Japanese organization. The authorities were reported to be checking airport records to determine what foreigners have left Japan since the shooting.

The gun parts were in the trunk of a car used by three Aum Shin Rikyo members arrested early yesterday in Tokyo.

Daily police searches of the sect's buildings have turned up sophisticated laboratories with tons of chemicals that could be used to make two types of nerve agents. Newspaper reports say the police found byproducts of a nerve agent and intermediate ** chemicals made in the manufacture of nerve agents.

Aum Shin Rikyo is also reported to have had supplies for cultivating biological weapons based on botulism. But police have not indicated they have any evidence directly linking the sect to the subway attack or to the attack on the police chief.

The sense of anxiety in Tokyo has also been fueled by the disappearance of the sect leaders and some of their equipment. The police are said to be concerned that they may have a supply of nerve gas with them.

Yomiuri reported this week that the authorities have not located two miniature, radio-controlled helicopters, bought by sect members in 1993, that can carry a bit less than 20 pounds of cargo. The purchasers told the seller they wanted the helicopters for crop spraying.

Police appear to be on a nationwide alert for some 2,000 vehicles registered to the sect and its followers. Two of the cars, seized this week, were reported to have contained metal boxes with equipment like air purifiers.

Another Aum Shin Rikyo car seized earlier also contained such a device, rigged as a battery-operated humidifier. Three similar devices were abandoned in the Tokyo subway system, without any toxic gas, before the subway attack in which a nerve agent was used.

Eleven people died and 5,500 were injured in the subway attack.

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