School maintenance man held after 20 primary pupils wounded in Beijing hammer attack

  • Three pupils suffer serious injuries, but their lives are not thought to be at risk
  • Former repair worker whose contract had expired detained after attack on young children in Chinese capital’s Xicheng district
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 11:58pm

Twenty pupils at a Beijing primary school were wounded on Tuesday in a hammer attack that police said had left three seriously injured, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Police in the Xicheng district of the city said in a statement on Weibo that they had detained a 49-year-old male suspect surnamed Jia, who was a former repair worker at the school.

Jia was a migrant worker from Heilongjiang province whose contract had ended at the start of the year, and police suspect that the attack was motivated by anger at having his employment terminated.

Another former maintenance worker at the school surnamed Liang suggested that the suspect was angry because he had been let go at the end of his probation period.

The attack happened at Xuanwu Normal Experimental Affiliated Number One Primary School just after 11.15am.

Several of the pupils were taken to the intensive care unit of the nearby Xuanwu Hospital following the attack.

The police added that the three most seriously wounded pupils were in a stable condition, but their injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

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A film of a meeting between school staff and parents soon after the incident circulated widely on social media, in which parents were told a “school worker” had carried out the attack on second grade pupils.

Earlier in a WeChat discussion one parent claimed: “The attacker... used a hammer-like weapon to hit the children’s skulls one by one, before he was stopped by the PE teacher.”

In video footage, which showed dozens of angry parents demanding details from staff, they were repeatedly urged to stop filming by the head teacher.

“A worker at our school attacked 20 students in a first-floor stairwell. It is not like what everyone is saying, he did not use a knife,” the teacher said.

“Everyone please keep calm. Second grade classrooms are on the first floor, it was children from those classes.

“The children were immediately rushed to hospital. We have been communicating with parents but some of them have gone to the hospital to see their children.

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“At the moment, if we have not called you, your child should be safe.”

A doctor at the hospital posted on social media: “The mayor today came to the hospital to wait with us while the children were being medically treated. We have paused several operations to save all the children.”

A hospital bystander said: “Police have tightened security at Beijing Children’s Hospital and Xuanwu Hospital. Nurses are rushing in and out of the operation rooms.”

Two children stabbed to death outside Shanghai primary school

In recent years, China has seen a spate of knife attacks on schoolchildren. In October last year, a 39-year-old woman was detained on suspicion of stabbing 14 children at a kindergarten in Chongqing.

Two children were also stabbed to death outside a Shanghai kindergarten in June, while nine children died in a knife attack at a school in Shaanxi province in April.

Additional reporting by Jun Mai and Amanda Lee