Two killed in Chinese school stabbing attack

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The Independent Online

A mentally ill man went on a stabbing rampage as students left an elementary school, killing a second grader and an elderly passer-by and wounding five others, a government website said today.

It was the second random attack on schoolchildren in three weeks.

The attack Hepu County of southern China's Guangxi region happened just after classes were dismissed at the Xizhen Elementary School yesterday afternoon, according to a statement on the website of Beihai city, which oversees Hepu.

The attacker, whom the official Xinhua News Agency said was about 40 years old, was chasing people near the gate of the school. He was detained by police after the attack, Xinhua said, but gave no other details, such as his name or motive for the attack.

The injured included two elementary school students, a younger child not yet in school and two other passers-by, the Beihai statement said. They were taken to hospital, where one was in a serious condition.

The attacks come after a crime which shocked China on March 23, when a former medical worker stabbed eight children to death as they stood outside the gates of their elementary school in southern Fujian province. Zheng Minsheng reportedly said in court that he had been rejected by a woman and treated unfairly by her wealthy family, and admitted to "intentionally killing" the children.

Zheng, 41, was sentenced to death earlier this month.

In the latest case, the body of the dead second grader, Wu Junpei, was taken away by dozens of paramilitary police early this morning, said the boy's uncle, Chen Wenjian.

They did not give an explanation to the family, saying only "We've come for the body", Mr Chen told The Associated Press. He said the paramilitary police beat him and the boy's father and sister as they protested against demands to hand over the body.

It was not clear why the paramilitary police would want Wu's body. In China, the bodies of victims in sensitive crimes are sometimes taken away by authorities to prevent further outcry or protests from the families, though it was not known if that was the reason in this case.

The Beihai city government and police were unavailable for comment today. The Hepu County public security bureau refused to answer questions. A man named Luo in the press office of Beihai's Communist Party office referred reporters to the statement on the city website.

China has witnessed a series of school attacks in recent years, most blamed on people with personal grudges or suffering from mental illness, leading to calls for improved security.