8 killed in knife attack in China amid Chinese New Year celebrations

BEIJING (NYTIMES) - At least eight people were killed and seven wounded when a man in a rural part of north-west China attacked fellow residents with a knife before being arrested, the police said on Wednesday (Feb 6), as the country was celebrating the Chinese New Year.

A brief police account of the attack on Tuesday in semi-rural Huining County, Gansu province, left many questions unanswered, including the identities of the victims. But the local public security bureau said that the attacker, a 49-year-old man surnamed Guo, had been drinking and suspected his wife of having an affair.

"According to Guo's initial confession, he suspected his wife of engaging in illicit sexual relations," the police report said.

It did not give his full name, occupation or other details.

"Hatred festered in his heart and he deliberately sought revenge."

Guo had been drinking, the account said, and early on Tuesday morning he entered another villager's home with a knife or cleaver and began attacking.

The account did not make clear whether he went to more than one home or whether those killed included his wife or other relatives. The police said they were still investigating.

The mayhem occurred on what Chinese people call "chu yi", the first day of the traditional Lunar New Year, when extended families are often gathered together after a night of banquets, toasts and fireworks to see out the old year and bring in the new.

Usually, unnatural deaths reported over the holiday come about through mishandled fireworks, driving accidents or boisterous drinking spinning out of control.

But much like the Christmas holiday season, the family celebrations can also be a time of heightened domestic tensions.

At the start of the Lunar New Year celebrations last year, a villager in Shaanxi Province in north-west China killed three of his neighbours whose family he blamed for his mother's death over 20 years earlier, when she was shoved to the ground during an argument.