Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Saturday, 15 May 2010 10:01 UK

China school knife attacker sentenced to death

A woman holds a baby near the gate of Zhongxin Kindergarten, file pic
All 32 victims survived April's attack at Taixing's Zhongxin Kindergarten

A court in eastern China has sentenced a man to death for knifing 29 children and three teachers in an attack on a kindergarten, state media reports.

Xu Yuyuan was found guilty of attempted murder after a half-day trial at Taixing Intermediate Court in Jiangsu province, Xinhua reported.

Xu reportedly said his motive was to vent his rage against society. It was not clear whether he would appeal.

All 32 victims survived April's attack at Taixing's Zhongxin Kindergarten.

China has been rocked by a string of school attacks in the past two months, in which dozens have been killed or wounded.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao has said the attacks show the country has "social tensions" which must be addressed.

The education ministry has ordered all schools to upgrade their security facilities, teach students about safety and ensure that young children were escorted home.

Some local police authorities have distributed steel pitchforks and pepper spray to security guards in schools but such measures are considered expensive and their effectiveness is unproven.

But Mr Wen told a Hong Kong television channel on Thursday that as well as boosting the security presence, China needed to "handle social problems, resolve disputes and strengthen mediation at the grassroots level".

Discourage copycats?

On Wednesday, seven children thought to be under the age of six and two adults were hacked to death at a kindergarten near Hanzhong city in Shaanxi province. The attacker later killed himself, Xinhua reported.

In March, a man stabbed to death eight pupils at a school in Fujian province. He was executed soon afterwards.

12 May: Seven children killed and 20 hurt in Hanzhong, Shaanxi province
30 April: Five children hurt in hammer attack in Weifang, Shandong
29 April: Three adults and 29 children injured in Taixing, Jiangsu
28 April: At least 15 children and one teacher injured in Leizhou, Guangdong
24 March: Eight children killed in Nanping, Fujian

China has in the past had a comparatively low rate of violent crime, meaning the recent violence has been all the more shocking.

There has been much speculation on the cause of the attacks, with some blaming inadequate provision for people with mental health issues.

Others have suggested the attacks are a form of revenge on society by individuals with no outlet for their anger in a political environment heavily controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

Reports in official media have generally played down any wider causes for the school attacks, portraying them as isolated incidents perpetrated by disturbed individuals.

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