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Dec. 20, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

China detains doomsday believers

BEIJING, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities said 97 people, including 37 members of a Christian cult, were detained for spreading rumors about a Dec. 21 apocalypse.

Authorities in seven provincial-level regions said the people were detained and a large number of banners, discs, slogans, books and printing machines were seized on allegations the groups were spreading rumors of the impending end of the world when the ancient Mayan calendar comes to an end Friday, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

The Church of Almighty God, a Christian cult in northwest China's Qinghai Province, has allegedly been spreading rumors about natural disasters set to begin Dec. 21, the New York Daily News reported.

"They are telling everyone that on Friday the sun will rise in the west and then disappear for three days and then there will be 72 days of terrible natural disasters starting from Jan. 1, 2013," a former cult member told the Financial Times on condition of anonymity. "They've also told all members to withdraw their money from the bank in preparation for the end of the world."

The Daily News said the crackdown on apocalypse believers comes amid an investigation into whether a man who recently stabbed 23 children in an elementary school was influenced by apocalypse propaganda.


Tattoos latest clues in goat burning

GAVLE, Sweden, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Police in Gavle, Sweden, said pictures of tattoos posted online are the latest clues in the mystery of the Christmas goat torching.

Investigators said an anonymous poster on Internet forum Flashback claimed responsibility Thursday for the burning of the 42.6-foot-tall straw goat Wednesday night and a photo was posted on the site Saturday depicting four ankles bearing tattoos of a burning goat with the date and time of the arson, The Local.se reported Wednesday.

Police said the posts are their latest leads in the arson and vandalism investigation.

"This kind of tattoo isn't done by just anyone," police spokesman Mikael Hedstrom said. "But even if we find out who it is, it's no proof."

The goat, which was first erected in 1966, has been burned to the ground for most years of the tradition.

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