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Evangelical church leaders detained in China

world Updated: Feb 18, 2009 10:46 IST

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Police raided a private evangelical seminar in central China and detained more than 60 worshippers, with four of them still in custody a week after the roundup, a US based Christian group said on Wednesday.

More than 30 police office broke into the gathering Feb 11 in Nanyang city in central Henan province, the China Aid Association said in a statement.

China's communist government allows worship only in state supervised churches, which claim about 11 million members. Christians and clergy in unofficial churches are regularly harassed and detained.

The participants came from four provinces for the event at which two South Korean pastors had been invited to speak, China Aid said. The Christians were escorted to a hotel in Nanyang by police, where their personal belongings were taken. They were registered, fined and released, the group said. It was not clear how much they had to pay.

Li Dewei, director of the propaganda office of the public security bureau of Nanyang city, said he did not know about the matter.

The two South Korean pastors were expelled from China on Feb 14 for "engaging in illegal religious activities," the group said. They were also banned from re-entering China for five years. Two Chinese church leaders were released two days later, but at least four remain in custody, China Aid said.