- The Washington Times - Friday, November 26, 2004

BEIJING — A man with a knife broke into a high school dormitory and killed as many as nine boys as they slept — the deadliest of a series of knife attacks at Chinese schools in recent months, the government said yesterday.

Police were hunting for the man after the attack late Thursday at the No. 2 High School in the city of Ruzhou, about 450 miles southwest of Beijing in Henan province, government news agencies reported. They said the motive was under investigation.

The man broke into the dormitory at 11:45 p.m. and “chopped eight people to death,” the official Xinhua News Agency said. Another state-run outlet, the China News Service, put the death toll at nine.

The China News Service said the attacker might have been a former student who had been expelled. It cited a survivor as saying that during the attack, the man with the knife said, “Don’t blame me.”

It was the fourth knife attack reported at a Chinese school or day-care center in as many months. The earlier assaults left one child dead and 42 persons injured.

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.

The reason for the surge in knife attacks isn’t clear. They have occurred throughout China and involved attackers from different backgrounds. In the only other fatal case until this week, an attacker at a Beijing kindergarten was reported to be an employee of the school who had a history of mental illness.

But China’s cities and towns seethe with grudges and personal feuds amid wrenching economic and social change.

Fatal bombings, mass poisonings and other attacks are reported frequently, usually blamed on people trying to hurt business rivals or seeking revenge in often minor disputes.

Last month, six men were arrested in Beijing in a knife attack at an Internet cafe that left 14 persons injured. News reports said the attackers wanted revenge on several men they had met at the cafe, and when they couldn’t be found, slashed customers at random.

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.

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