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Man stabs four children to death on their way to school (Graphic images)

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Study materials and the blood of a child are pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

Study materials and the blood of a child are pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The body of a child is pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The body of a child is pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

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Study materials and the blood of a child are pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

A man has stabbed to death four children on their way to a primary school in southern China.

The attack took place in Lingshan County of Guanxi province. Authorities said three of the children were killed instantly and one died later in hospital.

Police are searching for a 56-year-old suspect.

China has suffered a series of attacks on schools and the culprits are often said to be mentally ill or angry at society.

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The body of a child is pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The body of a child is pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The body of a child is pictured on a road leading to a primary school in Lingshan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Firearms are difficult to obtain and there have been many high-profile slashing attacks targeting schools over the past 10 years, prompting waves of tightened security but little in the way of lasting policy changes.

Some cities including Beijing require ID and registration for the purchase of some kinds of knives.

An attacker killed three pupils in a knife rampage at a school in Hubei province earlier this month and in May 2010 an attacker hacked seven children and one teacher to death and wounded 20 other people at a nursery school in the north west.

Several communities have temporarily stepped up security in response, including confiscating knives at school gates and in the surrounding community as well as self-defence training for pupils.

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