China kindergarten stabbing: Six dead in Lianjiang

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

Police said they have arrested a 25-year-old man with the surname Wu in Lianjiang.

The other victims are a teacher and two parents, AFP reported, quoting a local official. One person is also injured.

Police have called this a case of “intentional assault” but not elaborated on a possible motive.

The attack happened on Monday at 07:40 local time (23:40 Sunday GMT), just as parents were dropping their children off for summer classes. The man was arrested at 08:00.

A storeowner who works near the kindergarten told the BBC the surrounding area has been sealed off.

Lianjiang has a population of about 1.87 million.

As videos of the attack spread across Chinese social media, they sparked outrage and shock.

The stabbings also fit in to a disturbingly familiar pattern. Firearms are banned in China but the country has seen a spate of knife attacks in recent years, although there was also one incident where the attacker used a chemical spray to injure a classroom of 50 children.

The BBC has counted at least 17 knife attacks in schools, colleges and universities since 2010. Ten of those have happened between 2018 and 2023.

In August last year, a knife-wielding assailant stormed a kindergarten in the south-eastern Jiangxi province, killing three people and wounding six others.

In April 2021, two children died while 16 others were injured during a mass stabbing in Beiliu City, in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

In October 2018, 14 children were injured in a knife attack at a kindergarten in Chongqing, south-west China.

In most of these cases, the perpetrators are male and have expressed a grudge against society. Similar patterns have been seen in mass killings in other countries, from the US to Japan. But experts say there may be some additional reasons for the apparent increase in mass stabbings in China.

They believe the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced Chinese cities to endure some of the longest and toughest lockdowns anywhere in the world, could be one reason. The after-effects are not well understood yet, but could include feelings of anger, resentment, and involve a loss of jobs, investments and relationships.

Other possible factors that are cited are the high stress and high expectations put on young men in Chinese society. These are exacerbated by high levels of youth unemployment and a widening rich-poor divide. One expert told the BBC a strong sense of “social deprivation” can lead some to use violence to vent their frustration against society.

Chinese authorities have been stepping up security around schools since 2010. That year, the Ministry of Public Security had urged local authorities to “resolutely crack down” on criminal activities to ensure the safety of teachers and students.

After the April 2021 attack, the education ministry also mandated emergency evacuation drills in schools.

Fearing copycat attacks, Beijing is also not allowing state media to publish full details of Monday’s incident at the kindergarten.

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