BEIJING, Nov. 26 -- An unidentified assailant wielding a knife burst into a provincial Chinese high school early Friday and slashed eight people to death, authorities reported.
The unexplained attack, in the town of Ruzhou, about 380 miles south of Beijng, was the latest and most serious in a series of such knifings that have alarmed the Chinese public and led police to reinforce security at schools and day-care centers.
The official New China News Agency quoted local police saying the attacker ran from the school after the knifings and was still at large Friday afternoon. The motive for the slashings and the identity of the killer were still unclear, the news agency said.
Police did not say whether the victims were all students. In many provincial Chinese high schools, students from rural areas live on campus in large dormitories, with resident teachers or other resident school employees there to supervise them.
The attacker apparently roamed the buildings for some time before people at the school, who likely were asleep, realized what was going on. Police officers told the news agency the man entered the school grounds just before midnight but that they received the first emergency call around 2 a.m.
The recent violence has generated particular concern among parents because such attacks were previously unknown, either because they did not occur or because the officially controlled media did not report them widely. In the last 10 months, at least seven unexplained and apparently random knifings have been reported at schools or day-care centers.
Authorities on Wednesday executed a man convicted of wounding 25 children with a kitchen knife in September at an elementary school in Shandong province southeast of Beijing. The court sentenced him to death even though none of his victims died because, the judges said, his attack was particularly cruel.
Twenty-eight children were wounded, also in September, by a man armed with a knife and a homemade bomb who broke into a school in Suzhou, west of Shanghai. In the same month, a man armed with a kitchen knife killed four children and injured 12 children and four teachers in a primary school in Chenzhou, a small city in Hunan province about 750 miles south of Beijing.
The month before, 17 children, one of whom died from his wounds, were slashed by a janitor at a kindergarten in Beijing. And in October, at another Beijing kindergarten, police reported a man killed a teacher and a 5-year-old pupil.
A kindergarten nurse and her daughter were killed by a man wielding a cleaver last February in Xingji, a small town just south of Beijing.