Five children hurt in latest China school attack

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The Independent Online

A farmer attacked and injured five primary school children with a hammer in eastern China today before burning himself to death in the latest in a string of horrific assaults on young students, state media reported.

The attacker used a motorcycle to break down a gate of the school in Shandong province's Weifang city, struck a teacher who tried to block him and then used the hammer to attack the children, the official Xinhua News Agency said.



The assailant then grabbed two children before pouring petrol over his body and setting himself on fire.



Xinhua said teachers at the Shangzhuang primary school were able to pull the children away to safety, and none of the injured children had life-threatening injuries.



Xinhua identified the attacker as Wang Yonglai, a local farmer, but had no further details.



China has been reeling from a series of attacks on schoolchildren, with the latest incident coming just a day after a 47-year-old unemployed man rampaged through a kindergarten in Taixing city in Jiangsu province, wounding 29 students aged four or five years old, five of them seriously.



Experts said that a possible copycat rampage had been triggered by similar incidents on Wednesday and last month. They said the wave of school attacks falls amid poor care for the mentally unstable and growing feelings of social injustice in the fast-changing country.



The attacker in Taixing, identified as Xu Yuyuan, pushed his way into a classroom with an eight-inch knife after two teachers and a security guard failed to stop him.



Xu had been a salesman in a local insurance company until he was fired in 2001, but since then has remained jobless, Xinhua said.



On Wednesday, a man in the southern city of Leizhou broke into a primary school and wounded 15 students and a teacher in a knife attack.



The suspect, 33-year-old Chen Kangbing, was a former teacher who had been on sick leave since 2006 for mental health problems.



The assault left fourth and fifth graders with stab wounds on their heads, backs and arms, but none was in life-threatening condition.



That attack came the same day as a man was executed for stabbing eight children to death outside an elementary school last month in the south-eastern city of Nanping.



The attack in March shocked China because eight children died and the assailant had no known history of mental illness.



At his trial, Zheng Minsheng, 42, said he killed because he had been upset after being jilted by a woman and treated badly by her wealthy family.



Another attack earlier this month occurred when a mentally ill man hacked to death a child and an elderly woman with a meat cleaver near a school in southern Guangxi, and wounded five other people, including students.



After a 2004 attack at a school in Beijing that left nine students dead, the central government ordered tighter school security nationwide.



Regulations that took effect in 2006 require schools to register or inspect visitors and keep out people who have no reason to come inside.

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