ZIBO, China (Reuters) - Chinese police have detained a man who stabbed three children to death after going on the rampage at a kindergarten in the east of the country, state media said on Wednesday, in the latest outbreak of school violence.
Police detained Fang Jiantang, 26, within hours of the attack on Tuesday in Zibo in Shandong province, Xinhua news agency said.
Three children and four teachers were wounded. Two of the teachers were in serious condition, it said in a brief English-language report, citing a government statement.
The motive behind the attack was not immediately known.
State media have previously reported on a string of assaults on schools earlier this year, and in recent years, but authorities appear to be keeping this incident largely under wraps.
Chinese officials often prevent domestic media from reporting similar incidents for fear of provoking copycats, or when they do not wish to distract attention from more positive news. Multiple calls to the Zibo government and police went unanswered.
A worker at the Boshan District Commercial Kindergarten in Zibo told Reuters the attack happened at the Boshan District Experimental Kindergarten.
The school website (szbssy.ankang06.org) made no direct reference to any attack and calls to it went unanswered. But a comment on Tuesday appeared to obliquely mention it.
“We’re so upset ... The worst thing that could have happened has happened by our very side ... The poor children!” said the comment.
Police had cordoned off the kindergarten and at least a dozen officers stood guard outside it on a rainy Wednesday evening.
Residents living close by declined to answer questions about the stabbings, either claiming ignorance or saying they had been told not to talk of it.
A nurse in the emergency ward of a hospital in Zibo in Shandong province confirmed the stabbings, though said she had been told to keep quiet about it.
“We can’t say anything more about this. Our leaders have told us that only the government can say anything about this,” the nurse told Reuters, declining to be identified.
More than 27 people have died and at least 80 have been injured in knife, cleaver and other attacks since March, mostly in schools, prompting worries about a social malaise as a consequence of China’s rapid economic growth.
Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard