Relatives: China police detain 20 church members

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Associated Press

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 11:33 PM

BEIJING (AP) — Relatives of a Christian pastor say police in a central Chinese city have detained the religious leader and about 20 churchgoers in a crackdown on a state-backed church involved in a local land dispute.

Pastor Zhang Shaojie's relatives said Monday that Zhang was taken away from his church Saturday by police who provided no identification or basis for the detention.

Zhang's son-in-law Sun Zhulei says police in Henan province's Puyang city also took away around 20 others, including Zhang's two sisters.

The crackdown is unusual for a state-approved church. China's communist government allows worship only in such churches, while unregistered congregations tend to be subject to harassment.

But church leaders have been involved in a land dispute with local authorities. Calls to local police and government offices rang unanswered.

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