BEIJING - Chinese authorities have detained around 1,000 people as they step up a crackdown against a doomsday cult called "Almighty God" which has been predicting the world will end on Friday, state media reported.

In recent weeks, hundreds of members of the Almighty God group have clashed with police, sometimes outside government buildings, in central Henan, northern Shaanxi and southwestern Gansu provinces, according to photos on popular microblogs.

The government says it is a cult calling for a "decisive battle" to slay the "Red Dragon" Communist Party, and which has been spreading doomsday alerts related an old Mayan calendar seen by some as predicting "the end of the world" on Dec. 21.

Police have now detained around 1,000 members the Almighty God group across some seven provinces, the People's Daily reported on its website on Thursday, saying about 400 of them had been detained in the remote western province of Qinghai.

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