Four wounded in Taiwan subway knife attack

TAIPEI (AFP) - An unemployed man wielding a kitchen knife wounded four people in an attack on the subway in Taiwan's capital, just over a year after a stabbing spree left four dead and more than 20 injured, police said on Tuesday.

The attack on an escalator at a Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station late Monday left three women and a man with knife wounds.

Witnesses told of passengers screaming and running away, shouting: "Someone has a knife!" local media reported.

Television footage showed the attacker being bundled to the ground inside the MRT station by three security guards.

The attack came after former college student Cheng Chieh, 22, was sentenced to death for a stabbing spree on a subway carriage in May last year which killed four and left more than 20 others wounded in an attack that shocked the island.

Police are holding 27-year-old Kuo Yen-chun over Monday night's attack at central Zhongshan station.

Kuo is being questioned on charges of attempted murder and theft - the knife was stolen from a shop.

"He lives with his aunt who he had a fight with last week, and he had been sleeping in a park since. He's long-term unemployed and stabbed using a stolen kitchen knife," Chang Chin-an, deputy branch chief of Tatung district police, told AFP.

The victims, aged 31 to 50, were hospitalised but have since been released, authorities said.

Interior minister Chen Wei-zen pledged to beef up patrols at MRT stations and urged the public not to panic.

Cheng will face a firing squad after being convicted on four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder over last year's rampage - the first fatal attack on Taipei's subway system since it launched in 1996.

A court statement when he was sentenced in March this year said Cheng's crimes "angered gods and men" and that giving him the death penalty would safeguard society.

Relatives of the victims welcomed the sentence.