Nine dead as auto ploughs into square in southern China

Nine dead as auto ploughs into square in southern China

Nine dead as auto ploughs into square in southern China

A least nine people were killed and more than 40 wounded after a driver of a SUV intentionally crashed into crowds at a busy public square in central China late Wednesday evening, local government officials said.

Officials said Yang drove a auto into a crowded pedestrian square in the city of Hengyang in Hunan province with "intent to injure" at about 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, BBC reported.

Videos shared on Chinese social media showed the immediate aftermath of the attack.

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Police arrested the driver at the scene, a 54-year-old man who, according to government sources, had a criminal record.

Around 46 people were injured, the Hengyang city government office in charge of online information and propaganda said. Authorities have no yet given a motive and no official mention of terrorism has been made.

He had previously served time in prison for arson, some drug-related offences and assault.

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China has experienced violent attacks in public places in recent years, including bombings and arson of buses and buildings, sometimes by people trying to settle personal scores or grievances against society.

The government is generally nervous about such incidents after a auto ploughed through pedestrians in the northern part of Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 2013, killing the three people in the vehicle and two bystanders.

"He drove the auto by himself into the crowd at Yujiang Square that night and had with him shovels and daggers to attack the crowd, intending to cause serious damage", a Thursday police statement said. Police blamed the attack on Muslim separatists from the Uighur ethnic minority group.

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