Chinese police have blown up a church building, after its leaders refused to bow to state demands.
According to ChinaAid, military police detonated explosives in underground halls as well as demolishing the above-ground building.
The Golden Lampstand Church was an unregistered congregation in the north of China and home to 50,000 worshippers.
In 2009 officials assaulted church members guarding the construction site, and handed large fines to its leaders.
One was sentenced to two years in a “re-education labour camp” while another was imprisoned for seven years.
ChinaAid President and Founder Bob Fu said: “The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights”.
“ChinaAid calls on the international community to openly condemn the bombing of this church building”.
The organisation said it was concerned that mass destruction of church buildings may be on the horizon as new regulations come into force giving the Chinese Communist Party even greater powers over religion.
A state newspaper called the actions part of a “city-wide campaign to remove illegal buildings”.
The New York Times and The Guardian, which both reported the demolition, noted that China guarantees freedom of religion “on paper” but “tightly controls spiritual life”.
Last year the Chinese Government banned members of the country’s ruling Communist Party from holding any religious beliefs.
It stated that religious groups should be ‘guided’ by the state in altering their doctrine in order to promote “socialist core values”.
The Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said those who declined to give up their religious faith would be punished by the Party.