November 26, 2004

Man Kills Eight at Chinese High School

BEIJING - A man with a knife broke into a high school dormitory and killed eight students in the deadliest of a series of knife attacks at Chinese schools in recent months, the government said Friday.

Police were searching for the man following the attack late Thursday at the No. 2 High School in the city of Ruzhou, which also injured four students, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It didn't give a possible motive but said police believe they know the man's appearance.

The attacker broke into the dormitory at 11:45 p.m. and "chopped eight people to death and four to injury," Xinhua said. It had said earlier that the attack in central China took place Friday morning.

No one was available for comment at the Ruzhou police headquarters.

It was the fourth knife attack reported since August at a Chinese school or day care center. The earlier assaults left one child dead and a total of 42 people injured.

The reason for the surge in knife assaults isn't clear.

But the spate of violence prompted the government of President Hu Jintao to issue a nationwide order in September for schools to hire guards and tighten security.

Newspapers in Beijing say schools in the Chinese capital have begun to post guards, but it wasn't clear whether any additional security was in place at the school in Ruzhou.

The city of 920,000 people is located about 450 miles southwest of Beijing in Henan province, southwest of the giant industrial city of Zhengzhou.

On Wednesday, a court executed a man who slashed 25 children with a kitchen knife in September at a grade school in eastern China. Though no one was killed, a court ruled that the penalty was justified because the violence was "especially cruel."

Police said that attacker had a grudge against the parent of a student at the school.

In August, a man with a history of schizophrenia killed a student and slashed 14 children and three teachers at a Beijing kindergarten near the compound where China's leaders live and work.

In September, a man armed with a knife, gasoline and homemade explosives broke into a day-care center in the eastern city of Suzhou and slashed 28 children before police stopped him. Police haven't disclosed a possible motive.