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Knife attacker targets family planning staff

2013-07-24 09:40 Global Times Web Editor: Sun Tian

A deadly knife attack at a local-level family planning agency in Dongxing, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which killed two and injured four, has prompted speculation that the incident is the latest case of people using violence to express discontent over issues of social tension.

At around 8 am on Tuesday, a knife-wielding man broke into the Dongxing Family Planning Bureau, stabbing two employees to death and injuring four others.

The attacker, later identified as a villager surnamed He from Daqiao village, was caught red handed at the scene, after around 100 police officers and border police officers were mobilized, a police officer told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.

The deceased and three of the injured were officials from the family planning bureau, with the head of the bureau among the injured. Another injured person was a lawyer from a law firm located in the same building as the bureau.

Initial investigations showed that the bureau staff on Monday afternoon refused to provide the suspect's fourth child with a residence permit, or hukou, as he had not paid the "social compensation fee," a fine for those who violate the family planning policy, Xinhua reported.

The suspect, aged 33, has a boy and three girls.

The case went viral online due to the public's high concern over frequent attacks like this in recent days. Parallels have been drawn between this case and Saturday's Beijing airport explosion, as well as a bus explosion in Xiamen that claimed dozens of lives on June 7. The attacks in Beijing and Xiamen were believed to have been carried out due to problems related to petitioning.

Wu Boxin, a professor from the Chinese People's Public Security University, told the Global Times that the public should be aware that such cases reflect the twisted relationship between the public and certain government officials.

"In violent incidents like these, the suspects might have suffered improper treatment from the authorities or they misunderstood directions from the government. When such discontent accumulates and the suspects can't find a way to vent their anger, they might end up choosing violence as solution," Wu said, adding that there is no excuse for committing such extreme violence.

Zhou Xiaozheng, a professor of sociology at the Renmin University of China, compared the case to that of Yang Jia, a Beijing resident who murdered six Shanghai policemen with a knife in 2008 after being arrested by the Shanghai police for riding an unlicensed bicycle. Yang claimed that he had been beaten by the police.

"The political and legal systems in China already have mechanisms to allow people to find an appropriate way to solve their claims. The problem is that some local governments don't follow the rules or the regulations," Zhou said.

Some comments showing compassion for the suspect also surfaced Tuesday on the Internet, with some calling him a "fighter" for going against the family planning policy.

Such comments are irresponsible and might trigger copycat acts, Wu noted, adding that mainstream opinion should not be misguided, and that the Internet could increase the likelihood of copycat incidents.

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