Authorities in the southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing are holding a woman after a bloody knife attack on a kindergarten left 14 children injured.
The attack at the New Century Kindergarten in Chongqing's Banan district took place at 9:30 a.m. as the children were arriving for class, the Chongqing police department said in a statement on the social media platform Sina Weibo.
Video footage after the attack posted to social media showed injured children walking to ambulances from the school gate, with some being put onto gurneys.
A 39-year-old woman surnamed Liu is in police custody after carrying out the attack with a chopper blade. She was restrained and detained at the scene by teachers and security guards, it said.
Investigations continue into the incident at the kindergarten, which has 175 pupils and 19 staff members.
The attack came when teachers took the children to do morning exercises outside the front gate of the building, which has no private playground, reports said.
A member of the Chongqing legal community surnamed Lei said people are increasingly worried at an apparent increase in public violence, and rumors are circulating around the community about the motive behind the attack.
"Some people are saying she is mentally ill, and others are saying it's about a private vendetta," he said. "I don't know what the problem is. It seems anyone can be in danger at any time ... public safety is a real issue."
A local resident surnamed Peng said he believes that China may be materially rich, but that contemporary society is morally poor.
"This stuff happens a lot," he said. "There are various factors including the economic downturn, with huge pressure just to survive."
"The psychological stress some people feel has no effective outlet, so they vent their anger on the innocent, on civilians and vulnerable people," he said. "I have no words to describe it."
An employee who answered the phone at the Banan district Communist Party committee office declined to comment on the incident.
"We also have relevant requirements here, and right now we have nothing to disclose," the employee said.
Last June, two pupils at an elementary school in Shanghai died in a stabbing attack by a man who said he had "lost all hope," and wanted revenge on society, state media reported.
String of attacks
In 2010, China's central government ordered a nationwide security clampdown around schools after a string of deadly attacks on young children and staff in kindergartens.
The order came after a man went on the rampage with kitchen cleaver at a Shaanxi kindergarten, leaving nine people dead, seven of them small children.
The Chinese public was still reeling after the horrific attack, which left children as young as three years old with deep cleaver wounds to the head, when a second attack in Shandong's Zibo city killed three kindergarteners.
Experts have blamed growing social tensions, a widening gap between rich and poor, and associated mental health problems for the spate of attacks.
Reported by Wong Siu-san and Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.