15 killed in China arson, knife attacks

BEIJING • Fifteen people were killed in China on the eve of the Chinese New Year in two family tragedies, after one man started a fire and another went on a knife rampage.

As people celebrated to usher in the Year of the Pig on Monday night, a man with the surname Lu set fire to the home of his brother in the northern province of Shaanxi, killing seven, according to police in the town of Baoji.

The brother, his wife, their fathers and their three children died in the blaze, police said on the Twitter-like social media Weibo platform.

A few hours after the incident police arrested the suspect, who had tried to kill himself.

On the same night, in a separate incident, a 49-year-old who suspected his wife of adultery stabbed eight people to death and injured seven in a village in the north-west province of Gansu, police in the commune of Baiyin said. The man, who has the surname Guo, has been arrested. The identities of the victims have not been released.

Knife attacks are common in China, where the carrying of firearms is strictly regulated.

Violent crime has been on the rise as the economy boomed in recent decades and the gap between the rich and poor widened rapidly.

Studies have also described a rise in the prevalence of mental disorders, some of them linked to stress as the pace of life becomes faster and support systems wither.

Last year, on the eve of Chinese New Year, a villager from Hanzhong in Shaanxi province killed three neighbours whom he blamed for his mother's death in 1996. His mother had died from intentional injuries caused by one of the victims in a dispute, a Xinhua report said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2019, with the headline '15 killed in China arson, knife attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe