Minitrue: Watch Sources on School Blast [Updated]

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

With regard to the explosion in Jiangsu’s Feng county, pay attention to sourcing standards when passing on information. Review comments, and eliminate any negative related political speech. (June 15) [Chinese]

At least eight were killed and 65 injured in an explosion outside a kindergarten in Xuzhou, Jiangsu on Thursday afternoon. From Philip Wen and Christian Shepherd at Reuters:

The official Xinhua news agency reported that police had made a preliminary judgment that the blast was a "criminal offence" and they had identified a suspect.

[…] Local authorities held an early-morning press conference on Friday and said that contrary to early reports the blast did not occur while parents were picking up after school, according to the People’s Daily. No students or teachers were injured in the blast.

[…] Blasts and other are common in China, because of patchy enforcement of safety rules, although the government has pledged to improve checks to stamp out such incidents.

Police from Xuzhou city urged social media commentators to share only information from official channels after some users posted videos of an April explosion which they said depicted Thursday’s incident. [Source]

Xinhua reports that Deputy Public Security Minister Huang Ming has been dispatched to supervise the investigation. Authorities have not yet stated whether malice or negligence is suspected. [See update below] From The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernández:

The blast appears likely to provoke public anger and worry about safety around schools, including dangerous chemicals, fire hazards and explosive materials.

In 2001, Zhu Rongji, then the premier, apologized about an explosion at a rural schoolhouse in southeast China that killed 42 people, including 38 children. Mr. Zhu had initially dismissed reports, which turned out to be true, that the children had been making fireworks.

Since then, safety around Chinese schools has generally improved. But the country’s feverish growth has created hazards. Food vendors often use portable gas tanks carried on bicycles and carts. [Some reports have cited witnesses identifying this as the source of Thursday’s explosion.] In 2013, an explosion on a cycle killed two people outside a school in the Guangxi region in southern China.

Schools have been targeted in past instances, but officials made no suggestion that the explosion on Thursday was deliberate and asked people to wait for the results of a full investigation. [Source]

Updated at 15:24 PDT on Jun 16, 2017: Local authorities now say that the explosion was caused deliberately by a 22-year-old school dropout suffering from a neurological disorder, who was among the dead. The suspect may also have been responsible for a graffitied manifesto found near the site of the blast, according to Simon Denyer at The Washington Post:

Written on a wall near the school was a manifesto-style rant: “Giving birth is a crime,” it said, and added that India, China and Bangladesh will not “have a good end.”

There was speculation initially that the source of the blast might have been a gas cylinder from a streetside food vendor, but it now appears that the explosion is the latest in a long series of puzzling and disturbing attacks on schools in China in recent years, perpetrated by people with grievances against society or with mental health issues.

[…] “Materials for making an explosive device were found at his room, and words such as ‘die’ were written on the wall,” Pei [Jun, deputy head of the Jiangsu public security office] said. “At this point, we believe the case is solved.”

[…] Sociologists blame the pressures of a society undergoing rapid change for the attacks on schools and young children, with rising inequality and huge pressures on young people to compete and succeed.

Also thought to be possible causes are a lack of support for the mentally ill and a dysfunctional legal system, in which people who feel they have been treated unfairly or have suffered injustice have few avenues to seek redress. [Source]

More from Alice Yan at South China Morning Post:

While local police have announced that the explosion was caused by a 22-year-old male, who was among the eight killed, residents are still asking why the young man would have attacked the school and how he managed to get the explosives. Bomb attacks are rare on the mainland as explosives are strictly managed.

[…] The police have not labelled the case a terrorist attack, but the act of a young man who lost his mind.

There is a record of such attacks across China. In March 2010, a man in Fujian province stabbed eight primary school students and hurt another five. In May 2010, a man in Shaanxi province used a knife to kill seven children at a kindergarten.

[…] A day after the explosion took place, the site was sealed. At the Chinese medicine hospital, groups of police and guards were standing and patrolling. Staff were positioned at the doors of patients’ rooms to prevent journalists and strangers from entering.

When the Post’s photographer tried to take a few shots of the public area of the hospital, a group of guards tried to intervene. [Source]

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