A suspect has been identified in an explosion at the front gate of a kindergarten in eastern China and the death toll rose to eight from the blast that struck as relatives were picking up their children at the end of the day, Chinese state media reported Friday.
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. A witness cited by state media said a gas cylinder at a roadside food stall had caused the blast.
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 Xinhua and other media reported Friday that 65 were injured including eight who remained in critical condition.
Xinhua said no children or teachers were among the casualties, but videos purportedly from the scene appeared to show children among those hurt.
Videos posted by the state-run People’s Daily showed a chaotic scene outside the entrance to a building, with children and adults lying on the ground, some of them motionless. Clothing, shoes and other items were strewn on the ground beside pools of blood.
The videos showed ambulances arriving, medics wheeling people into an emergency room and medical personnel treating what appeared to be a child.
Kindergartens in China have been attacked before by suspects authorities have said were mentally ill or bore grudges against their neighbors and society.
A witness identified only by the surname Shi told the state-run Global Times in the hours after the explosion that a gas cylinder at a roadside food stall had caused the blast. The force of 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.