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China Arrests Hundreds of Doomsday Cult Followers in Crackdown

Chinese authorities arrested more than 450 people accused of belonging to a doomsday cult after they held secret gatherings and spread leaflets, China Central Television reported today on its website.

The group, called Almighty God, held eight illegal gatherings in Qinghai province Dec. 5 and 6, and switched to handing out leaflets and hanging up banners after an initial police crackdown, CCTV reported.

The group is a Christianity-inspired “evil cult” that believes the world will end Dec. 21 and is urging members to wage war against the ruling Communist Party, which it called “the big red dragon,” Chinese Business View, a newspaper based in northwestern province of Shaanxi, reported last week.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday that China arrested 101 members of the cult across the country, including 37 in Qinghai.

The people were detained for spreading rumors and disturbing social order in the name of religion, Xinhua said. China carried out a nationwide crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement in 1999, putting thousands of members behind bars.

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