11 people were killed and at least 44 injured when a man drove a car into a crowd in China’s Hunan province. The incident occurred at around 7:30 p.m. local time, when mainly elderly residents were taking their after dinner strolls in the pedestrian park.
The assailant, identified as 54-year-old Yang Zanyun, went on a stabbing spree with a knife after the vehicle stopped, but was overpowered by the crowd and handed over to the police. Police said the attacker has a criminal record dating back to 1992 with offences ranging from arson to drug dealing.
Several videos were shared on Chinese social media platforms with one showing the injured and dead lying in pools of blood at the scene while people ran and screamed as they sought help. Another clip, thought to be the moment that Yang was subdued, shows a group wrestling a man to the ground near a dented immobile red Land Rover.
The incident elicited angry reactions online with many decrying the state of mental health care in the country. Others hinted the crime was aimed at grievances against the government, wondering why ordinary people were being killed.
China has had more than its fair share of similar attacks in recent times, with a 28-year-old man killing nine school children and injuring 12 others this April in a knife attack outside a school in the northern town of Mizi. In perhaps the deadliest example, Islamist form the minority Uighur community speeded cars into a packed square and threw explosives into crowds in 2014, leaving at least 31 dead. Later that same year, 29 were stabbed to death in an attack also blamed on Uighurs militants.
China is a country with stringent gun control laws but assaults on gatherings have been carried out using knives, fires, bombs and vehicles. Sociologists have attributed the rising violence to a number of reasons that include poor mental health support structures, a defective legal system that breeds a sense of injustice for many and pressures on young workers to match standards of success in a period of increasing inequality.
The police refused to confirm if there is aterrorism-relatedd motive, stating investigations were still ongoing.