A disgruntled former employee is accused of injuring 20 young children during a terrifying hammer rampage at a primary school in Beijing.
The school’s headmaster told parents that the suspect had recently been sacked, while a former colleague claimed he was a janitor who failed his probation period.
Three students suffered serious injuries after being hit over the head and were rushed to a nearby hospital along with the other victims.
A number of pupils were in intensive care as they were treated for their injuries.
Police arrested a suspect after the horrifying attack which unfolded in the capital’s Xicheng district just after 11am local time
Earlier reports indicated the man was armed with a knife. The school and parents later said he was armed with a hammer.
A former school maintenance worker told the South China Morning Post the attack was carried out by a former temporary janitor at the school who was angry at not having passed his probation.
A 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.”
Footage posted on social media shows angry parents demanding information from staff at the gates of the Xuanwu Normal Experimental Affiliated Number One Primary School following the attack.
There was confusion as parents gathered outside the school to get answers before the headmaster spoke to them.
Parents had been told to come to the school and pick up their children
One parent wrote on WeChat: “The details are still not clear. They were all younger students and were stabbed by an adult.”
The headmaster told parents: “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.”
Social media posts said many of the pupils suffered head injuries.
Local police said the three pupils most seriously hurt were in a stable condition, and none of the injuries are believed to be threatening.
Police did not reveal the motive for the attack.
Violent crime is rare in China but there has been a series of knife, axe and car attacks in recent years, many targeting young children at schools.
Last week, China executed a farmer who attacked a dozen children with a knife because he wasn’t satisfied with the way his life had turned out.
Qin Pengan, 43, used a vegetable knife to slash and stab the youngsters at a kindergarten in January 2017 until a teacher fought him off and called for help.