BEIJING, Apr 27, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Two members of China's outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement jumped to their deaths during a police raid in the northeastern part of the country, a police official told AFP on Friday.

The incident took place last month in Changchun, capital of Jilin province, when police raided a building housing Falun Gong members in a special business district operated by the city, according to the official.

"A group of nine practitioners had gathered indoors to put together flyers and other materials regarding the persecution of Falun Gong when 30 or 40 police smashed the locks, forced open the door, and broke into the room," said a press release issued by Falun Gong members overseas.

"Five of the practitioners had bags put over their heads and the police pummeled them with steel bars, leather belts, electric batons and other weapons, beating them until they fell unconscious," the press release said.

The Changchun police official contacted by AFP denied any beatings had taken place.

The Falun Gong, which advocates pure living, staged a high-profile demonstration outside the Chinese government's headquarters two years ago.

This alerted top politicians to the power and organization of the group and in July 1999 they moved to ban it.

Since the ban, hundreds of Falun Gong leaders have been jailed and thousands of followers have been sent without trial to re-education through labor camps, while around 120 adherents have died in police custody, according to human rights groups.

Falun Gong followers insist they have no political agenda and say they are solely interested in attaining high moral standards and physical well-being through meditation.