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JAPAN POLICE RAID FACILITIES OF CULT SUSPECTED IN ATTACK

Long columns of police in riot gear Friday raided more than 130 facilities of the cult suspected in the nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway, and concern grew over the cult's prophecy of a horrible event this weekend.

Some department stores said they plan to close Saturday, the day that cult leader Shoko Asahara has predicted a disaster will hit Tokyo. In a book published last month, Asahara said the event might be an earthquake, but police fear the group may launch a terrorist attack.The cult, Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth, is the chief suspect in the March 20 attack on Tokyo's subways, in which the nerve gas sarin killed 11 people and sickened 5,500 others.

The government has instructed hospitals to stockpile sarin antidotes and train staff in treatment methods, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.

A source close to the sect told The Associated Press that followers are preparing for a calamity this weekend. Tokyo's Shinjuku nightclub district is regarded as particularly threatened.

Police also patrolled the city's most crowded neighborhoods and its government district.

In a raid at one cult commune today, police took away about 53 children who appeared malnourished, news reports said. TV pictures showed many of the children wearing headgear with wires, which cult followers believe allows them to synchronize brain waves with Asahara's.

In another raid, scuffles broke out between cult members, many wearing flowing white garments, and police in military fatigues as authorities removed followers from a building.

Believers shouted through megaphones that police were violating religious freedom and would be condemned to hell.