BEIJING: A 49-year-old man was arrested after attacking students with a hammer at a primary school in Beijing on Tuesday (Jan 8), in a rare act of violence in the Chinese capital.
Twenty children were taken to hospital, the government in the Xicheng district of Beijing said on its social media account. It added that three suffered heavy injuries but their condition was stable.
Four of the children suffered skull fractures that required surgery, a hospital representative told reporters.
The suspect, surnamed Jia, was a contractor hired by the school for daily maintenance work.
His contract was scheduled to end later this month, and although the school was discussing another job posting for Jia, he used a hammer and attacked students to "vent his resentment", Xicheng district mayor Wang Shaofeng said at a press conference late Tuesday.
"We will do everything possible to treat the injured children, severely punish the criminal ... and take more effective measures to ensure the safety of schools," Wang said.
Police cars lined the main road close to the school when Reuters arrived at the scene.
Several police were seen coming from the school carrying items including sealed paper bags marked "physical evidence" and silver cases before driving off.
Posts circulating on social media earlier said that some children suffered knife wounds to the head.
"I heard that children were attacked (by someone) with a knife, so I'm very anxious," said a woman surnamed Zhou as she waited for her child to finish school.
Another parent, surnamed Jia, said she was concerned about her child's psychological wellbeing.
"Even though they were on the same floor as the one where this took place, they didn't know anything about this. So I really don't want this information to be spread widely so that he starts to feel scared," she said.
The attacker, originally from northeastern Heilongjiang province, has been detained by police and an investigation was under way, state television said.
Violent crime is rare in China but there have been a series of knife and axe attacks in recent years, many targeting children.
In January 2017, a man in southern China stabbed 12 children with a vegetable knife to extract revenge for his life not going as he wanted and a dispute with a neighbour.
The man was executed this month.