BEIJING Knife-wielding men stabbed nine college-age students at a vocational school in southern China, breaking into their dormitories after a dispute at a food stall hours earlier, local media said.
The attack came after a string of deadly assaults at kindergartens and primary schools across the country by men acting alone. A total of 27 people have died and over 80 injured in attacks since March.
More than 10 men, apparently from a nearby village, slashed a school guard, disabled a security camera, then around 2.30 am on Wednesday burst into the dormitories, where they randomly hacked at students.
One lost a hand, the China News Service said. Three attackers had been arrested, the Hainan Daily reported.
Some students from the college, the Institute of Science and Technology on the southern island province of Hainan, had earlier had a confrontation with local youth at a barbeque stall. Four of them were injured in that fracas, media said.
Triggers for the previous school violence, which has spurred public alarm, include personal grievances over job losses, business failures, broken relationships and house relocations.
Schools across the country have been required to tighten security and the police vowed to "strike hard" against any attack, but there have also been worries about the social malaise some see underneath China's rapid economic growth.
Experts have said media reports about the attacks have raised the risk of copycat attacks. On Sunday, a man attacked six women with a cleaver in southern China before killing himself by jumping from a building.
(Reporting by Liu Zhen and Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Nick Macfie)