A 26-year-old man posing as a parent wielded a 60-cm knife in a slashing spree that killed at least three children in an east China kindergarten on Tuesday. The Chinese did not hear about the attack until 24 hours later.
In a move to avoid unleashing ‘copycat’ knifings and social unrest, the government censors limited the news, photographs and commentary about the attack in the Chinese media.
A series of school attacks in China between March to May this year have left at least 15 children dead and over 80 injured.
On Wednesday evening, a terse statement released in the official media said police had detained Fang Jiantang, a self-employed man, who reportedly confessed to the killings in a kindergarten in Zibo city in eastern Shandong province. Three children died on the spot, while three children and four teachers were injured.
The attacks by middle-aged men have occurred in rich provinces in the north, south and east, stoking speculation that the attackers were raging against widening income and social inequalities by targeting children in a society where most parents are allowed to have only one child. Officials have said some of the attackers were deranged men.
Guards with tear gas and parents with batons have patrolled schools since May, after China’s top security official said school security had become a ‘major political task’. Police have distributed spear-shaped prongs to kindergarten teachers in Beijing and the big cities. Rich Chinese parents have enrolled four-year-olds in kung fu classes.
In May, Premier Wen Jiabao said that officials need to ‘handle social problems, resolve disputes and strengthen mediation at the grassroots level' to stop the crimes.
Two of the attackers were executed after swift trials, and two attackers killed themselves. The attackers have included a doctor, a laid-off art teacher, a shop owner and a kindergarten landlord.