Knifeman kills children and teacher in China

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A knife-wielding man went on a murderous rampage in a kindergarten in eastern China, leaving three children and one teacher dead, it was reported today.

The unidentified attacker entered the school in a suburb of Zibo in Shandong province at about 4pm yesterday, local time, as parents were picking up their children, according to people living nearby.

About 20 children and staff were injured, two of the children seriously, they said.

China has suffered a spate of deadly attacks on schools and in public spaces this year, leaving dozens of people dead and scores wounded.

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 had gained entry to the school by posing as a parent.

Police rushed to the kindergarten soon after the attack and officers took some injured children to hospital before ambulances had time to arrive, said the woman, who would give only her surname, Zhang.

"The kindergarten has been sealed off until now. There're still police officers there," Ms Zhang said.

Ms Zhang and other residents said the teacher died of her injuries today.

The Zibo killings came just two days after a man in Hebei province to the west went on a rampage at the wheel of his earthmover, smashing vehicles and buildings and leaving 17 dead.

Other recent mass killings include a May 12 attack on a kindergarten in the northern province of Shaanxi that left seven children and two adults dead and the wounding of 29 children at a kindergarten in Jiangsu province in April.

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.

Authorities have responded with increased security at schools and orders to limit media coverage of the attacks to discourage copycats.

Officials in Zibo hung up when reporters called for information on the attack.