Thursday, May 13, 2010

7 children killed in latest attack at China school

An attacker hacked seven children and one teacher to death Wednesday and wounded 20 other people in a rampage at a kindergarten in northwest China, the latest in a string of savage assaults at the country's schools.

The slayings occurred despite a countrywide boost in security at schools, with gates and security cameras installed and additional police and guards posted at entrances.

The attack happened at 8 a.m. (0000 GMT) at a kindergarten in Nanzheng county of Hanzhong city, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It did not give the ages of the victims or say who attacked them.

Liu Xiaoming, deputy director of the propaganda department of Hanzhong city, confirmed that seven children and one teacher were killed and that about 20 others had been wounded.

"The murderer killed himself afterward," Liu told The Associated Press. He said he did not have any other information.

A Nanzheng county resident reached by phone said crowds had gathered outside the kindergarten, but information was spotty. He said the assailant was believed to have been a local villager surnamed Wu, aged in his late 40s, who owned the house in which the kindergarten was located.

"I saw him before and he looked quite normal," said the man, who would identify himself only by his surname, Li.

The attack is the fifth major incident at schools and kindergartens since late March, sparking security fears among parents, officials and educators.

In Hanzhong, an industrial city of 3.72 million people, nearly 2,000 police officers and security guards had been detailed to patrol public schools, kindergartens and surrounding areas beginning last week, according to a statement posted on the city government's official website.

Sociologists say the attacks reflect a lack of support for the mentally ill and rising stress resulting from huge social inequalities in China's fast-changing society. Such issues have largely been ignored in state media's reporting on the attacks, which have focused instead on increases in security in an effort to quell public fear and potential unrest.

The assaults began with an attack on a primary school in March in the city of Nanping in Fujian province where eight children were stabbed and slashed to death by a former community clinic doctor with a history of mental health problems.

The man convicted for that crime was executed on April 28, the same day a 33-year-old former teacher broke into a primary school in the southern city of Leizhou in Guangdong province and wounded 15 students and a teacher with a knife.

The following day in Taixing city in Jiangsu province, a 47-year-old unemployed man armed with an 8-inch (20-centimeter) knife wounded 29 kindergarten students - five seriously - plus two teachers and a security guard.

Just hours later, a farmer hit five elementary students with a hammer in the eastern city of Weifang before burning himself to death.

The government has sought to show it has the problem under control, mindful especially of worries among middle-class families who, limited in most cases to one child due to population control policies, invest huge amounts of money and effort to raise their offspring.

China' recent assaults at schools:

- May 12, 2010: A man hacks seven children and one teacher to death at a kindergarten in Hanzhong city in Shaanxi province. He then kills himself.

- April 30, 2010: A farmer ttacks and wounds five kindergarten students with a hammer in Shandong province's Weifang city before burning himself to death. The man also strikes a teacher. None of the children has life-threatening injuries.

- April 29, 2010: A 47-year-old unemployed man attacks 4-year-olds in a kindergarten in Jiangsprovince, wounding 29 of them. Two teachers and a security guard are also hurt.

- April 28, 2010: A teacher on sick leave due to mental illness breaks into a primary school in Leizhou city in Guangdong province in southern China and stabs 18 students and a teacher.

- April 12, 2010: Yang Jiaqin, 40, hacks to death a second grader and an elderly woman near an elementary school in Xizhen village of the southern Guangxi region. Yang's family was scheduled the next day to send him to a hospital for psychological treatment for a mood disorder.

- March 23, 2010: Zheng Minsheng, 42, kills eight children in a knife attack at the Nanping Experimental Elementary School in south China's Fujian province. Zheng is executed April 28.

- March 2, 2009: Xu Ximei, 40, hacks a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old to death with a kitchen knife and wounds three others and a grandmother at a primary school and nearby yard in Mazhan, a village in Guangdong province. Xu was believed to be mentally disabled.

- Feb. 24, 2008: Chen Wenzhen, a former student at the Leizhou No. 2 Middle School in Guangdong province, stabs to death a boy and a girl, then kills himself. Chen had dropped out because he suffered from headaches and could not concentrate on his studies.

- June 13, 2007: A man identified only by his surname, Su, breaks into the Chiling Primary School in Longtang township in Guangdong and kills a 9-year-old boy with a kitchen knife. Three other students are seriously wounded. The attacker had quarreled with the boy's parents.

- May 24, 2006: Yang Xinlong hacks a neighbor to death in the village of Luoying in central China's Henan province, then takes 19 elementary school students hostage and kills one. Police shoot him when he refuses to surrender.

- Nov. 25, 2004: Yan Yiming, 21, breaks into a Chinese high school dormitory and stabs nine boys to death in Ruzhou, Henan province. Yan's mother turns him in to police after he attempts suicide on the day following the attack. He is executed two months later.

- Aug. 4, 2004: Xu Heping, 51, a part-time gatekeeper at a Beijing kindergarten kills one student and slashes 14 others and three teachers. Xu had a history of schizophrenia. The attack, near the compound where President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders live and work, prompted the government to increase security at schools nationwide.

info : The Jakarta Post


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