SHANDONG - A Chinese woman was beaten to death at a McDonald's outlet in China's eastern province of Shandong, city police said, after she reportedly refused to give members of an alleged religious cult her mobile phone number on May 28.
Six people, including four members of the same family, were arrested at the scene, Zhaoyuan police said on its microblog on Saturday, adding that they had all confessed to the crime.
The attack appeared to be led by a bald man surnamed Zhang. His two daughters and 14-year-old son, as well as two other women were among his accomplices, reported the state-linked Beijing Times. Zhaoyuan police said the group appeared to be members of the "All-powerful spirit", and had been actively gathering numbers in a bid to recruit new members.
An eyewitness video uploaded online showed Zhang hitting the victim repeatedly with what looked like a steel mop handle amid terrified screams. He allegedly called her an "evil" and "will never be reincarnated" while attacking her, according to Beijing Times. Pictures circulated online showed the victim, reportedly a 37-year-old salesperson surname Wu, lying motionless in a huge pool of blood. She was pronounced dead in the hospital.
Ms Wu had sent a WeChat message to her family before the attack, saying that she had "run into a crazy man", her sister-in-law told the newspaper. They lost contact with her thereafter, and came to know about her death only when the police informed them the next day.
In a statement released on its official China microblog, McDonald's expressed "deep-felt grief" and pledged to investigate the matter.
"All-powerful spirit" was founded in the 1990s in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang before it gained following in other eastern provinces, reported Associated Press, quoting the Southern Metropolis Daily. The group reportedly championed a way of life based on a "distorted reading of the Christian Bible", according to the report.
China outlawed another group it labelled as an "evil cult", the spiritual movement Falungong, in the 1990s and has since detained tens of thousands of members. The group says its members are tortured for refusing to give up their beliefs.