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1000 cult members arrested in China in a crackdown

world Updated: Aug 19, 2014 21:00 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

China has arrested nearly a 1000 suspected members of a cult that was accused of murdering a woman in a McDonald's outlet in eastern China earlier this year after she had refused to join the outfit.

Members of the Quannengshen (almighty god) cult were involved in more than 500 illegal activities, the state media quoting the Ministry of Public Security, China's internal security organ, said.

Though details of their alleged crime were not shared, reports said that among those arrested since June were "high-level organisers and backbone members".

"Five members of the cult have already been charged with intentional homicide for the killing of a woman at a McDonald's outlet in Shandong in May, when she refused to give her telephone number to them, allegedly as they tried to recruit new members," official news agency, Xinhua said in a report on Tuesday.

The victim named Wu was beaten to death on May 28 at a restaurant in Zhaoyuan City, Shandong in eastern China.

"The circumstances are especially serious, their means are especially cruel, and the aftermath is especially serious," the indictment against the five accused said.

Since then police had launched a sustained campaign to weed out members of the secretive cult.

Several raids were conducted in the region and arrests were made through the past few months.

In December, 2012, more than 400 members of a fringe Christian group that preached that Jesus had reappeared as a woman in Central China were arrested for spreading doomsday theories and inciting people against the government.

The "Almighty God" cult, which is also named "Oriental Lightning," uses the name of Christianity to recruit members, expands its influence through illicit means, and carries out illegal underground activities and crimes, Global Times newspaper had reported.

Chinese authorities have come down heavily on what they perceive as cults - such as the Falun Gong - which were keen to recruit members in mass scale.