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Chinese Officials Condemn School Attacks

Chinese officials spoke publicly Friday about a recent wave of violent attacks that have hit schools across China. They have pledged to severely punish attackers who target children and look into the root cause of the string of violent acts.

The attacks began in late March with the brutal slaying of eight school children and have targeted the country's most innocent - sparking growing concern among parents in China - and criticism of the government.

Ministry of Public Security spokesman Wu Heping says authorities will strike hard against such violence.

Wu says such crimes should be condemned by society as a whole and deserves the outrage of all Chinese people.

Wu says public security bureaus and judicial authorities will severely punish anyone involved in such crimes in accordance with the law.

Since late March, there have been six attacks on school children by angry and apparently mentally deranged men. In March, a former doctor stabbed eight children to death in southern Fujian province. He was executed April 28.

Earlier this week, a 48-year old man attacked and killed seven children and two adults, just as the school was beginning at a private kindergarten in the city of Hanzhong in Shaanxi province.

This week's attack came even as authorities had tightened security significantly at schools around the nation.

Public Security spokesman Wu says that authorities will look for ways to manage the problem and understand its root causes.

Wu says that as society changes and develops rapidly, innovation to manage society is not only essential, but urgent. Wu says the central government is demanding that public security, under the leadership of all levels of local government - work to handle various social conflicts.

In comments to a Hong Kong television station late Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying that the Chinese government needs to resolve the deep-seated causes that have led to such problems.

Mr. Wen said that includes resolving social contradictions and disputes as well as strengthening mediation at the grassroots level.

Experts suggest the attacks highlight China's strong emphasis on economic growth in recent decades and its overlooking of mental health problems that have come with the country's rapid social changes.