A knife-wielding man went on a slashing rampage in a kindergarten in eastern China, leaving three children and one teacher dead in the country’s latest school attack, area residents said yesterday.
Officials refused to release details of the attack, saying they feared reports could inspire copycat killers. The assault was the latest in a spate of gory rampages this year in schools and in public spaces that have left dozens of people dead and scores wounded.
The unidentified assailant entered the school in a suburb of Zibo, Shandong Province, at about 4pm on Tuesday as parents were picking up their children, said people living nearby contacted by telephone.
About 20 children and staff members were injured, two of the children seriously, they said.
Authorities have responded with increased security at schools and orders to limit media coverage of the attacks to discourage more violence and calm public fears.
Official news media were silent on the attack yesterday — a sign editors had been told to steer clear of the topic. Online postings about it were deleted by mid-afternoon by government censors who police the Internet for material considered politically sensitive.
The head of the Zibo government propaganda department’s news office, who gave just his surname, Bi, would say only that there had been “very few deaths and injuries.”
“The country has a regulation about reporting on these sorts of reports. There’s a worry that they might inspire copycat crimes creating a negative impact, so therefore, we are not issuing a report,” Bi told reporters by phone.
A woman who works in a restaurant opposite the Boshan District Experimental Kindergarten’s Jinfengyuan branch said the attacker was a man aged 27 or 28 who gained entry to the school by posing as a parent.
Police rushed to the kindergarten soon after the attack and officers transported some wounded children to a hospital before ambulances had time to arrive, said the woman, who would give only her surname, Zhang.
“The kindergarten has been sealed off,” Zhang said. “There are still police officers there.”
Zhang and other area residents said the teacher died of her injuries yesterday morning.
The Zibo killings came just two days after a man driving an earth mover in Hebei Province to the west went on a rampage, smashing vehicles and buildings and leaving 17 dead.
The seemingly unrelated attacks have prompted calls for more attention to diagnosing serious mental illnesses and ignited fears over the toll stress is taking on the nation’s emotional health.
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