Chinese police have detained more than 500 people for spreading rumors about so-called Mayan Doomsday.

In western China’s Qinghai province alone, police arrested more than 400 members from a fringe Christian group. Officials seized leaflets, video discs, books, and other apocalyptic materials. The arrests took place across eight provinces and regions, state media reports said Tuesday.

The detentions come ahead of Dec. 21 –a date some say the Mayans prophesized would be the end of the world and which was the subject of the apocalyptic movie “2012.”

Some of those detained are reported to be members of the group Almighty God, which is also called Eastern Lightning, after a biblical phrase. Widely regarded as a heretical Christian sect, the group preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China. It has been accused of targeting Christians, kidnapping and beating them to force conversions.

A public notice on the web site of Qinghai provincial government said local police are waging a "severe crackdown" on the group described as a cult with "strong political penchants." The government urged the public to inform the police of any illegal propaganda, gathering and preaching by the group.

In a separate report, officials are said a man who went into a school in central China and stabbed 23 children last week was “psychologically affected” by doomsday predictions.

Min Yongjun is suspected of going into an elderly woman's house Friday morning and stabbing her with a kitchen knife. He then allegedly went to a nearby elementary school in Chenpeng village in Guangshan county and injured the 23 children before being stopped by teachers and police.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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