China school attacks continue

A surge of attacks against children
in China has continued in recent days despite official pledges of stepped-up
security. The violence has prompted questions about the state of mental health
care in China, highlighted shortcomings in the country’s legal system and left
the government struggling to find some way to stop the bloodshed.

On Wednesday
an attacker with a cleaver hacked to death seven children
and two adults and injured 11 other children at a kindergarten in northwest

The killer, 48-year-old Wu
Huanming, returned home after the attack on the outskirts of the city of
Hanzhong and committed suicide, the local government reported. A motive wasn’t
known, although reports indicated he and the school administrator may have
known each other.
It was the fifth such major assault on young students in China since late March.
The latest deaths were sure to fuel speculation about why assailants – usually
lone males – are targeting schools. Sociologists say it reflects a lack of
support for the mentally ill and rising stress resulting from huge social
inequalities in China’s fast-changing society.
The attack began as children were arriving at the private Shengshui Temple
Wu killed the school’s administrator Wu Hongying and a student on the spot, and
then hacked at 18 others, the statement said. Six students and Wu Hongying’s
mother later died in hospital, it said. None of the 11 others hospitalized was
in immediate danger, it said.
The ages of the seven children killed were not disclosed, but kindergarten
students would typically be 5 years or less.

The string of school assaults began
with an attack on a primary school in March in the city of Nanping in Fujian
province where eight children were 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 28 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
The following day in Taixing city in Jiangsu province, a 47-year-old unemployed
man armed with an 8-inch 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.