BEIJING — A man wielding a knife killed two students and injured two others at an elementary school in central China on Wednesday, according to the local authorities.
The attack occurred early Wednesday morning at Baijiaping Township Wanquan Elementary School in Ningyuan County, Hunan Province. A brief statement issued by Ningyuan County on its official WeChat social media account said that the two injured students had been taken to a hospital. Reached by telephone, an official surnamed Feng at the public security bureau of Ningyuan County said the injured students were in stable condition but declined to offer more details.
The statement said that the suspect, a 31-year-old man surnamed Zheng, had been taken into police custody. Officials offered no details on the motivation behind the attack. The incident is still under investigation.
Videos circulating online showed a large crowd of anxious adults carrying umbrellas gathered outside the school gates.
Gun violence is rare in China, where ownership of firearms is strictly regulated. But Wednesday’s violence was the latest in a string of knife attacks on Chinese schools in recent years, adding to persistent concerns among parents about school safety.
In the last year, knife attacks have occurred at schools in Shaanxi Province, in Shanghai and in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing. In January, a man attacked and injured 20 children with a hammer at an elementary school in Beijing.
The frequency of school attacks has shown few signs of abating despite the fact that perpetrators of such crimes in China are often dealt severe punishment, including the death penalty.
Experts have said the spate of school attacks can be attributed in part to a lack of high-quality mental health care in China and growing frustrations about social inequality and injustice. Some have pointed to a series of deadly stabbings of children in 2010 as the inspiration for later copycat attacks.
Some users on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter, reacted to the news of the attack in Hunan on Wednesday by calling for the death penalty for the attacker. Others expressed disappointment that after so many years, the problem of school attacks had not yet been resolved.
“When I was in elementary school, there were many attacks like this,” one user said. “Schools organized drills and hired many security guards with anti-riot gear to guard the gates.”
“It’s hard to believe that now I’m about to graduate from college and humans are still doing the same thing, even though the era has changed,” the user added.