12/19/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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More than 500 people from the 'Oriental Lightning' have been arrested

The cult is accused of spreading panic subversively using the Mayan Prophecy of 21 December. The authorities react with their best tools, large-scale detentions.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Chinese authorities detained more than 500 members of the Almighty God Christian group, a doomsday cult also known as 'Oriental Lightning', in the north-western Qinghai province for pushing people to extreme acts in relation to the imminent end of the world according to the Mayan prophecy.

Cult members hand out flyers, send text messages and post reports online about the end of the world this Friday, 21 December, as predicted by the so-called Mayan Prophecy.

A man arrested in the central province of Henan for stabbing and wounding 23 pupils and one adult in a primary school, is a member of the cult according to the police.

Chinese media reported that six local government officials were fired for underestimating the cult's dangerousness.

According to the Global Times on Tuesday, the 'Almighty God' cult uses the name of Christianity to recruit members, expand its influence through unlawful means, and carry out illegal underground activities and crimes.

Founded in 1990 in Henan Province, the cult has expanded mainly in rural areas, and targets farmers. In more recent years, it has also secretly emerged in big cities including Beijing.

Highly critical of China's Communist regime, cult members have targeted the authorities for more than ten years. The first cases of illegal persecution against them dates back to the first years of last decade.

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