Beijing, Sep. 13 (PTI): A driver of a SUV vehicle deliberately crashed into crowds at a busy public square in central China’s Hunan province, killing 11 people and injuring 44 others, state-media reported Thursday.
The attack took place on Wednesday night and injured mostly elderly people who had gathered in the square by the river in Hengdong county.
The driver, Yang Zanyun, 54, first ploughed through the people with his vehicle and later got out of it and went on a rampage attacking people with a knife.
Local police detained Yang and is investigating the case, the report said. The office released no other details about the suspect.
Yang was reportedly sentenced several times for robbery and drug abuse, state-run Global Times quoted local media reports as saying.
Yang was diagnosed with gastric cancer and coronary heart disease, another report said.
A court verdict earlier said Yang has been involved in drug dealing, setting fires, racketeering and robbery in the past 26 years. He has been jailed for over 10 years.
Several bystanders posted graphic video footage shortly after the incident.
Videos and photos circulated on social media purportedly show large crowds of up to several hundred people running frantically from the square in different directions, amid bodies scattered on the ground.
Local media reports quoted a manager of a restaurant in the vicinity of the attack spot as saying that he saw a red Land Rover suddenly ploughing through a crowd at a high speed.
A large number of people mostly elderly were dancing or walking in the square after dinner, at that time. Many fell to the ground after they were hit by the speeding SUV, the reports said.
Knife attacks by disgruntled people in public places and schools to highlight their grievances periodically occur in in China. Uygur militants from Xinjiang from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) also in the past attacked crowds with speeding cars.