BEIJING (AP) — A suspect has been identified in an explosion at the front gate of a kindergarten in eastern China and the death toll on Friday rose to eight from a blast that struck as relatives were picking up their children at the end of the day.
Police were investigating the explosion as a criminal act and said they had “targeted” a suspect, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It was unclear if the suspect was apprehended and no potential motive was provided.
Two people died at the scene and six died after being taken to a hospital following the explosion at 4:50 p.m. Thursday at the Chuangxin Kindergarten in Fengxian, according to local authorities and Xinhua.
Initial reports said 59 were injured, but state media on Friday said 65 were injured including eight who remained in critical condition. No details have been given on the victims.
Kindergartens in China have attacked before by suspects authorities have said were mentally ill or bore grudges against their neighbors and society.
Videos purportedly from the scene and posted on social media showed children and adults lying on the ground, some bleeding. Clothing, shoes and other items were strewn on the ground beside pools of blood. The videos showed ambulances arriving and medics wheeling people into an emergency room.
The official Global Times reported on its website that a gas cylinder at a roadside food stall had caused the blast, citing a witness identified only by the surname Shi. The blast sent people flying several meters (yards) into the air, Shi was quoted as saying.
In 2010, nearly 20 children were killed in attacks on schools, prompting a response from top government officials and leading many schools to beef up security by posting guards and installing gates and other barriers. Last year, a knife-wielding assailant injured seven students outside a primary school in a northern city.
China maintains tight control over firearms and most attacks are carried out using knives, axes or homemade explosives.