China kindergarten attack kills six, sparks safety worries

China kindergarten attack kills six, sparks safety worries

BEIJING (Reuters) – A 25-year-old man was suspected of attacking a kindergarten in China’s Guangdong province on Monday, killing six people and injuring one, triggering an outpouring of concern about violence against children at school.

Media reported the attack in Lianjiang county in the southern province was a stabbing. The suspect, with the surname Wu and from Lianjiang, had been detained, police said, including they were investigating.

Some media reported that both adults and children were among the victims.

While violent crime is rare in China due to strict gun laws and tight security, incidents of stabbings at pre-schools over the past few years have raised concerns about school safety.

The latest news sparked emotional debate on the Weibo social media platform. By 1:50 pm (0550 GMT) it was the top-trending discussion, with 290 million views.

Some social media users called for the suspect to face the death penalty.

“It’s outrageous to do this to children who have no power at all. How many families will be destroyed by this … I support the death penalty,” one Weibo user said.

Another user questioned security at schools, especially after similar previous attacks.

“Why do such cases still continue to emerge?”

In August last year, three people were killed and six wounded in a stabbing at a kindergarten in the southern province of Jiangxi.

In 2021, a man killed two children and wounded 16 at a kindergarten in the southwestern region of Guangxi.

Attacks on children have also thrown a spotlight on mental health, which often goes under the radar due to the cultural stigma attached to mental illnesses.

In 2017, a 22-year-old man set off an explosive device outside a kindergarten in Jiangsu province, killing himself and several others while wounding dozens.

The man has a neurological disorder and has scrawled words for death in the walls of his home, according to state media.

Last month, a series of violent attacks in Hong Kong also raised the issue of mental health.

Mental health experts point to the COVID-19 pandemic as a major factor behind an increase in mental health problems.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr, Judy Hua, Qiaoyi Li, Ella Cao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel)