Driver who struck China children chose 'random' target

Beijing (AFP) –


A driver who rammed his car into a group of schoolchildren, killing five and injuring 19 others, chose his target "at random" following arguments with his wife, Chinese state media said Friday.

The 29-year-old unemployed local resident of Liaoning province was contemplating suicide "due to quarrels" with his spouse before he drove his car into the children on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing police.

The man "chose his victims at random" when he was driving in Huludao city, in China's northeast, Xinhua reported.

The driver made a sudden turn into the opposite side of the road to hit the children, who were crossing the street shortly after noon, the report said.

State media said the collision took place near an elementary school.

Police in Jianchang County have placed the attacker under criminal detention for endangering public security.

Unverified videos circulating on social media show a car veering onto the wrong side of the road and ploughing through the line of pupils, with the impact from the crash throwing bodies across the road.

Other gut-wrenching footage showed at least two small children lying unconscious and bleeding on the street. The screams and cries of children could be heard in the background, as onlookers milled around the scene of the collision.

All five killed in the car attack were children, the official CCTV broadcaster said on its Weibo social media account Thursday.

Of the 19 injured, 16 were children. Two teachers and a passerby were also hurt. Xinhua said three people remain in critical condition.

Violence against schoolchildren is not uncommon in China.

In April, a knife-wielding man killed nine middle school children and injured at least 10 others as they returned home in northern China. The suspect, who was later executed, had told police he was exacting revenge because he had been bullied when he attended the school.

Violent crime has been on the rise in China in recent decades as the gap between rich and poor has widened rapidly in China.

Studies have also described a rise in the prevalence of mental disorders, some of them linked to stress as the pace of life becomes faster and support systems wither.