Man held over fatal knife attack at China kindergarten

Police outside a school in Nanping, Fujian (23 March 2010) China has been shocked by a spate of similar school attacks in recent months

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A man who killed at least three children in a knife attack at a Chinese kindergarten has been arrested.

The alleged assailant, Fang Jiantang, 26, was taken into custody shortly after the attack and has confessed to his crime, state media reported.

More than 20 children and staff were hurt at the school in the eastern city of Zibo, Shandong province, on Tuesday.

The motive for the attack is not known. It is the latest in a string of similar attacks across China.

More than 27 people have died and at least 80 have been injured in knife attacks, several in schools, since the beginning of the year.

Start Quote

China used to take pride in its low rate of violent crime but now it has to deal with it almost every day, leading many to ask what has caused the sudden surge of apparently random attacks”

End Quote Shirong Chen BBC China editor

Nine people died in a kindergarten knife attack on 12 May. The same month, a man was sentenced to death for stabbing 29 people at a kindergarten in Jiangsu.

Badly injured

The kindergarten in Zibo was attacked as parents were picking up their children at the end of the school day.

A man wielding a long knife ran amok.

Three children died at the scene, while three others and four teachers were injured and taken to hospital, city officials said in a statement.

Earlier reports said a teacher had been killed.

A local newspaper quoted parents as saying that their children's injuries were so bad they could barely recognise them.

The alleged attacker, Fang Jiantang, was detained within hours, according to Xinhua news agency.

Officers have found the murder weapon, and an investigation is under way, it reports.

Local authorities told the BBC they had nothing to say when asked to explain what had taken place, and waited more than 24 hours to confirm the details.

The BBC's correspondent in Beijing, Chris Hogg, says officials have tried to minimise media coverage of such incidents inside China to avoid the risk of copycat attacks.

Security has been increased at many schools but not all of them can afford it, our correspondent says.

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