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Three children among six dead in Chinese kindergarten stabbing

Six people, including three children, have been killed in a stabbing attack in a kindergarten in China’s south-eastern Guangdong province.

Police arrested a 25-year-old man with the surname Wu in the city of Lianjiang after what the authorities called an “intentional assault”, reported AFP.

A police spokesperson said three children, two parents and one teacher were killed. Another person was injured, said the BBC.

The attack happened on Monday at 7.40am local time (11.40pm on Sunday GMT), “just as parents were dropping their children off for summer classes”, said the broadcaster. The suspect was arrested around 20 minutes later.

Videos filmed by passers-by which allegedly showed the crime scene were circulating online before being “swiftly” removed from video-sharing platforms Douyin and Weibo.

The videos sparked an “outpouring of concern” about violence against children at school, following similar attacks in China in recent years, said Reuters. While strict gun control laws and tight security mean violent crime is “rare” in the country, there has been a spate of stabbings and violent attacks at schools and kindergartens. “Why do such cases still continue to emerge?” asked one social media user.

The BBC said it had counted “at least 17 knife attacks in schools, colleges and universities since 2010”, with 10 of those incidents occurring between 2018 and 2023.

Last August, three people were killed and six others wounded in a knife attack at a kindergarten in the southeast Jiangxi province. And, in April 2021, two children were killed and 16 others wounded when a knife-wielding man entered a kindergarten in southern China. 

While the country’s strict gun control laws have “sharply reduced the number of casualties in public attacks”, the country has “seemingly failed to address the root causes”, said CNN, after a similar mass stabbing attack in eastern China in June 2021. 

Suspects have often had mental health issues or to have been “seeking revenge” against employers, officials or wider society, according to officials. Access to mental health services in China is “limited”, said CNN, and social stigma can discourage people from seeking help.

Experts also believe that Covid-19 restrictions enforced by China, which were some of the “longest and toughest lockdowns anywhere in the world” could also be driving the spate of attacks, leaving people harbouring feelings of “anger” and “resentment” after the “loss of jobs, investments and relationships”, added the BBC.

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