Rash of School Knife Attacks Alarms Chinese
- On March 23, a 42 year-old man upset about “failures in his romantic life” attacked students with a knife outside the entrance to an elementary school in Nanping, Fujian province, killing eight and wounding several more.
- On April 12, a mental patient stabbed several primary school students down the street from their school in Guangxi province, killing two and injuring five more.
- On April 28, a knife-wielding man broke into a primary school in Guangdong province and wounded 16 students and a teacher.
- The next day, April 29, a 47 year-old man barged into a kindergarten in Taixing, Jiangsu province, and stabbed 28 students, two teachers, and a security guard.
- The very next day, April 30, a local farmer entered a village school in Shandong province, carrying a hammer and a can of gasoline. He hit several preschool students on the head with the hammer before lighting himself on fire. According to Xinhua News Agency, the man went berserk after police told him that a house he had built with US$16,000 in family savings had to be torn down because it had been illegally constructed on farmland.
On Friday (April 30), the Ministry of Education issued an urgent warning on its website ordering kindergartens, elementary, and secondary schools to step up security and keep an eye on strangers. Schools around the country are hiring security guards and instructing students in self-defense. Police in Beijing have even been issued pronged steel forks to use in fending off assailants (see picture, right).
Although gun crimes are rare in China, because of strict regulation of firearms, attacks involving frustrated or desperate individuals using knives or explosives (the latter often obtained from worksites) are not unusual. Readers may recall the fatal knife attack at the Drum Tower in Beijing that killed the family member of an American athelete on the first day of the 2008 Olympics. There was also a series of knife attacks on a major tourist area in Beijing in the days leading up to the 60th Anniversary Parade this past October, leading to a city-wide crackdown. In a country of 1.3 billion people, keep in mind, these are still relatively rare and isolated incidents. But this latest trend, targeting schoolchildren, obviously has people alarmed and outraged. One of the striking characteristics of these recent attacks is how widely dispersed they are, taking place to the north, south, east, and west of China. Whatever’s going on, it’s a nationwide concern.