Saturday 19 August 2017

Police identify suspect in nursery school blast probe

Investigators work at the scene of an explosion inside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Investigators work at the scene of an explosion inside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Investigators work at the scene of an explosion inside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
Investigators work at the scene of an explosion inside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
A gate is seen at the scene of an explosion at a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
Investigators work at the scene of an explosion inside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
A play area is seen inside a kindergarten where an explosion took place, in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
Investigators work at the scene of an explosion inside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in Jiangsu Province, China June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, medical workers transport a person injured in an explosion outside a kindergarten into a hospital in Fengxian County in eastern China's Jiangsu Province early Friday, June 16, 2017. (Li Xiang/Xinhua via AP)
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, investigators work early Friday, June 16, 2017, at the scene of an explosion outside a kindergarten in Fengxian County in eastern China's Jiangsu Province. (Li Xiang/Xinhua via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Police say they have identified a suspect following a horrific explosion outside a nursery school in eastern China that killed eight people as relatives gathered to pick up their children.

The explosion was said to be a criminal act and police said they had "targeted" a suspect, according to a statement issued by authorities in the city of Xuzhou and the official Xinhua News Agency.

It was unclear if the person was arrested and no potential motive was provided.

A witness cited by state media said a gas cylinder at a roadside food stall caused the blast on Thursday afternoon.

Two people died at the scene and six died in hospital following the explosion at at the Chuangxin Kindergarten in Fengxian.

Xinhua and other media said 65 people were injured including eight who remained in a critical condition.

The blast occurred before school had finished for the day and authorities said no children or teachers from the kindergarten were injured.

But videos purportedly from the scene showed children - possibly relatives of the pupils or passers-by - among the casualties.

Videos posted by the state-run People's Daily showed a chaotic scene outside the entrance to the school, with children and adults lying on the ground, some of them motionless and others struggling to get up.

Clothing, shoes and other items were strewn on the ground beside pools of blood.

The videos showed ambulances arriving, medics wheeling people into a casualty unit and medical staff treating what appeared to be a child.

Nursery schools in China have been attacked before by suspects authorities have said were mentally ill or bore grudges against their neighbours 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 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 attacker 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 home-made explosives.

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