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China cracks down on 'Doomsday cult'

December 18, 2012 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
The 12th-century Dresden Codex, one of four Mayan manuscripts at the source of doomsday predictions.
The 12th-century Dresden Codex, one of four Mayan manuscripts at the source of doomsday predictions.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police: Members of a cult arrested in China for spreading 'doomsday rumors'
  • Relates to Mayan prophecy about the world ending on December 21, 2012
  • Banners, discs, slogans, books and printing machines were seized by police

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- Members of a fringe Christian group in China have been rounded up for spreading rumors of an impending apocalypse, pegged to the Mayan calendar.

Known as the "Almighty God" cult, the group latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days beginning on December 21, an official with the Department of Public Security in the northwest province of Qinghai told CNN.

Group members would spread doomsday rumors door-to-door or at public venues and claimed only they could save people's lives, according to authorities.

What a year for China in 2012 -- what about next year?

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that almost 100 people have been arrested so far, including 37 in Qinghai and 34 in Fujian province in the east of the country.

A large number of banners, discs, slogans, books and printing machines were seized by police, Xinhua said.

According to Xinhua, the cult was established in 1990 in central China and requires its members to surrender their property to the group.

December 21, 2012, is the endpoint of a more than 5,000-year Great Cycle marked on the "Long Count" calendar of the Mayans -- an ancient native American civilization.

Some say this date marks the end of the world, while other suggest it marks the beginning of a new era.

CNN's CY Xu contributed to this report.

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