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August 30, 2011

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Knife attack at daycare center injures 8 toddlers

TODDLER Gao Tiantian hid herself behind the stuffed toy she had held onto throughout her surgery as she lay in her hospital bed, moaning from the pain of a deep knife wound to her right cheek.

"It's her. Ms Lu," she said. "She came with a sharp thing in her hands, and she cut me in the face."

The four-year-old was one of eight toddlers, all aged four or five, who were injured when a female worker at a privately owned daycare center in suburban Shanghai attacked them with a craft knife at lunchtime yesterday.

The 39-year-old woman, whose name has not been released by police, was said to have aimed at the necks of the toddlers when she attacked them. All the toddlers were cut on the face or neck.

The motive for the attacks was unclear.

A four-year-old boy surnamed You was still in a coma in the intensive care unit after he suffered an 8-centimeter-deep cut to his neck, causing heavy bleeding, said doctors at the Children's Hospital of Fudan University.

"How can she do that to my boy? She tried to kill them all by cutting their necks. I'm still waiting for my boy to wake up and tell me who did that to him," said You's father, migrant worker You Qinghai.

The other toddlers were all in a stable condition after surgery yesterday afternoon, doctors said.

All eight toddlers, five boys and three girls, arrived at the hospital at about 1pm yesterday from the Xiaofuxing Daycare Center, doctors said.

A huge crowd gathered around the daycare center which had been cordoned off by police.

Many were parents of toddlers at the center.

"I came to pick up my boy after the center teachers texted me that something tragic was happening to the toddlers," said Li Xingfa, 38.

Li said his six-year-old son, Li Zhibang, saw blood all over the ground at lunchtime when he looked out the window after teachers had locked his son and other children inside their classrooms.

"Teachers warned us there were robbers outside so we cannot go outside," the boy said. "Many girls cried hard but I didn't."

Some parents said the woman who attacked the children was a cleaner at the center and a handicapped person who had only one arm.

"There were only eight employees in the facility and they all looked quite nice when we met them," said Li. "None of them wore the appearance of a mad murderer."

Like many of the parents, Li is a migrant worker struggling to make a life for his family in the big city.

The center, mainly for migrant workers' children, charges 300 yuan (US$47) a month, much lower than other kindergartens in the area.

It has about 170 children and is a licensed daycare center approved by the local education bureau.


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