, BEIJING, May 30 – A man was executed Sunday for carrying out a bloody assault on 32 people, mostly small children, at a kindergarten in eastern China, one of a spate of attacks on schools that shocked the nation.
Xu Yuyuan, 47, burst into a classroom in the city of Taixing last month and stabbed children and teachers with a large knife, leaving four victims badly injured.
The assault is one of a number that took place in China in a period of less than two months, leaving 17 people — including 15 children — dead and more than 80 injured. Two of the attackers committed suicide.
"Xu Yuyuan was executed this morning," an official at the higher people\’s court of Jiangsu province, who refused to be named, told AFP. He added the sentence was carried out in Taizhou, a larger city that administers Taixing.
Xu, who had been jobless for nine years, was sentenced to death on May 15 by a court in Taizhou after a trial attended by 300 people. The sentence was then approved by China\’s supreme court, the official Xinhua news agency said.
He had told the court his motive was to vent his rage against society after losing money gambling and in business dealings, and suffering setbacks in his personal life.
According to a previous Xinhua report, the court decided that even though Xu had not succeeded in killing his victims, "his criminal motivation was extremely despicable, his means extremely cruel, his plot especially evil."
The recent spate of attacks has shocked a nation where violent crime remains relatively rare, and emergency measures including beefing up school security and shutting down bars near schools have been taken across China.
Public security minister Meng Jianzhu has vowed to "severely strike" at anyone caught attacking schools, and the southwestern city of Chongqing has even ordered police to "shoot to kill" anyone trying to harm students.
One man — a former doctor who stabbed to death eight children and injured five others on March 23 in southeast China — has already been executed.
China\’s Premier Wen Jiabao has also commented on the recent attacks — many of which involved knives or meat cleavers — saying that long-standing social concerns are partially to blame.
Analysts agree, saying the assaults show China is paying the price for focusing on economic growth for decades while ignoring mental health problems linked to the nation\’s rapid social change.
Studies have cited a rise in mental disorders in China, some linked to stress as society becomes more fast-paced and old socialist supports have been scrapped.
One study last year estimated that 173 million adults in China had some type of mental disorder — 91 percent of whom had never received professional help.
Some of the attackers involved in the violent school rampages reportedly had mental problems.
Chen Kangbing, a 33-year-old teacher reportedly on sick leave due to mental problems, injured 15 students and a teacher in a knife attack at a primary school in southern China a day before Xu\’s rampage.
A number of other violent assaults and multiple killings have been reported across the country in recent months.
Earlier this month, 13 vocational students were injured, including one who had a hand chopped off, when they were attacked by youths with cleavers on the southern island of Hainan.
And state press reported in April that gay singer Zhou Youping was arrested in central China after allegedly killing six men in sado-masochistic sex games that involved hanging his victims.