Six Chinese Officials Fired for ‘Mishandling’ School Attack

Posted December 18th, 2012 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese authorities have fired six officials for their “improper handling” of last week's knife attack at an elementary school in a central province that left 23 students injured.

The official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday two school principals, two police officers, a local safety official, and a county education director were removed from their posts.

Twenty-three students and an elderly villager were injured Friday when a 36-year-old man armed with a kitchen knife burst into the school in Henan province. None of the students were injured seriously and the man was quickly arrested.

The report did not give a reason for the dismissal of the officials, but noted it followed a public outcry over the “local authority's perceived irresponsible and indifferent attitude toward the tragedy.”

Many Chinese citizens had criticized a local newspaper, the state-run Xinyang Daily, for lauding the city's “great achievements” in education in a report issued just two days after the attack. On Tuesday, the paper posted a front-page apology for insulting the injured students and their families.

Others on China's popular microblogs criticized authorities for not revealing enough details about the attack. Even state news reporters were turned away by authorities when trying to interview school officials or injured children.

Though authorities say they have not determined a specific motive, police say the suspect, Min Yongun, may have been influenced by ancient Mayan prophesies predicting the end of the world.

State media said Monday an initial investigation found Min “had been strongly psychologically affected by rumors of the upcoming end of the world by ancient prophecy.” His specific motives are not known.

Some say the ancient Mayan calendar predicts the world will end on Friday, December 21.

Security at Chinese schools has been increased in recent years following a series of violent attacks on students, mostly involving mentally unstable young men.

Some say the attacks, which began in 2010, highlight the weaknesses of China's healthcare system, which has struggled to identify and treat those with mental illnesses.

Most of the attackers have used knives, hammers, or meat cleavers. China has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.

Friday's incident came just hours before U.S. gunman Adam Lanza burst into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, with a rifle and two handguns, in an attack that left 20 children and six adults dead. It was the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history.