At least 20,000 police set up roadblocks on key highways throughout Japan Thursday to search for the missing leaders of the religious cult suspected in Tokyo's nerve gas attack.
The roadblocks went up because police believe they now have enough evidence of illegal activities to detain the leaders. Officers checked identification cards of passengers and searched the trunks of vehicles.The coast guard, meanwhile, checked ships along Ishikawa Prefecture on the Japan Sea, officials said. There were suspicions that cult leaders might try to escape Japan by boat to Russia, where the cult claims 30,000 members.
A spokesman for the sect known as Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth, said Thursday that the cult's top leader, Shoko Asahara, was still in Japan. The spokesman declined to be more specific.
Police Thursday arrested one senior member, Kiyohide Nakada, as he left an interview at a Tokyo television studio. News reports identified him as a former gangster and current leader of the cult's "commando corps," which captures members who try to escape and solicits contributions.