A Chinese man who grievously injured 23 primary school children last week was an epileptic patient psychologically affected by doomsday predictions, officials have said.

Initial police investigation found that the detained person Min Yongjun was a long-term epilepsy patient and had been psychologically affected by rumours of the upcoming end of the world predicted by ancient prophecy, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted local police as saying.

December 21 marks the conclusion of a 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar, a point associated with the apocalypse.

Some people believe the Mayan calendar predicts an apocalypse this Friday, December 24. Few people have been arrested in China for spreading these rumours.

Besides slashing 23 small children outside the gate of a village school in central China’s Henan Province, Min also stabbed a 85-year-old woman.

He was formally arrested and charged with jeopardising public security.

According to accounts in the official media Min burst into an elderly woman’s house near the elementary school of Chenpeng village in Guangshan county and stabbed her with a kitchen knife he picked up in her house.

Min then rushed to the school, and allegedly knifed 23 students, before being subdued by teachers and police.

Most of the students in the village school were “left-behind” children, whose parents work as migrant workers in cities.

Min was described as outspoken man with an illness. He has two daughters, with the eldest also of elementary school age. His wife was said to have sought city jobs for many years, spending little time at home.

Such attacks targeting school children have taken place earlier which was largely attributed by the official media to men with mental disorders.

Besides sketchy accounts, little is known about those who resorted to the copy cat attacks.

Some psychologists say the attackers could be those desperate people marginalised by rapid economic development widening the wealth gap.

(This article was published on December 17, 2012)
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