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BEIJING: A Chinese man attacked at least 20 young children at a Beijing primary school with a hammer on Tuesday, state television reported, in a rare act of violence in the capital.

A 49-year-old man, a former maintenance worker at the school, was detained after venting his anger on the children after his work contract was not renewed, state television cited police as saying.

Twenty were taken to hospital, the government in the Xicheng district of the capital said in a post on its social media account. Three suffered heavy injuries but their condition was stable, it said.

Parents waited outside for their children as the school day ended. Almost all of the parents Reuters approached declined to be interviewed. “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.

The attacker, originally from northeastern Heilo­ngjiang province, had been detained by police and an investigation was under way, state television said.

Violent crime is rare in China but there has been a series of knife and axe attacks in recent years, many targeting children.

In January 2017, a man in southern China stabbed and wounded 12 children with a vegetable knife.

He was executed this month.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2019