A man armed with a small axe has attacked a daycare in southern Brazil, killing four young children in a tragedy that Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called a “monstrosity”.
The attack occurred on Wednesday when a 25-year-old man scaled the wall of a private daycare in Blumenau, a city in the state of Santa Catarina. Once inside, he killed four children estimated to be between the ages of four and seven and injured several others, according to the local Hospital Santo Antonio.
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“A tragedy like this is unacceptable, an absurd act of hate and cowardice … an act of violence against innocent and defenceless children,” President Lula said in a Twitter post.
Police say that the attacker has been arrested. The event takes place more than a week after a 13-year-old student carried out a stabbing attack in a Sao Paulo school that killed a teacher and left five others wounded.
Details about the number of children injured in Wednesday’s attack remain uncertain. The Associated Press said that five wounded children had been taken to the hospital, according to Blumenau’s mayor, Mario Hildebrandt.
The news agencies Reuters and AFP, meanwhile, stated that four children were injured, citing the Hospital Santo Antonio and local officials, respectively.
Footage on TV networks showed parents sobbing outside of the Cantinho do Bom Pastor daycare centre. A police detective told television reporters that investigators would search for a potential motive.
Hildebrandt said that classes had been suspended and that the city would declare a mourning period.
The attack is the second of its kind to occur in Santa Catarina, where a suspect wielding a knife killed three small children and two adults at a daycare centre in 2021.
According to a report from researchers led by Daniel Cara, an education professor at the University of Sao Paulo, 16 attacks or violent episodes happened in schools between 2000 and 2022.
“There is no greater pain than that of a family who loses its children or grandchildren, even more so in an act of violence against innocent and defenseless kids,” Lula wrote Wednesday on Twitter.
“My thoughts and prayers are the families of victims and the community of Blumenau in the face of the monstrosity of what occurred.”