China PM 'distraught' over attacks

Wen Jiabao says string of deadly assaults in schools have roots in social tensions.

    Security has been stepped up in and around schools across China following a series of attacks [Reuters]

    "As well as adopting vigorous safety measures, we also have to pay attention to addressing some deep-seated causes behind these problems, including dealing with some social conflicts and resolving disputes," Wen told the satellite television network that broadcasts into mainland China.

    "We must strengthen the role of [dispute] mediation at the grassroots. That's something we all have to work on," he said.

    Wen's remarks were the most direct yet from a senior leader on the recent assaults that have left 17 dead and scores wounded.

    'Social harmony'

    Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan, reporting from Beijing, said it was encouraging that stepping up security was not the only official response to the attacks.

    in depth


      Video: Knife attacks terrify China
      Video: Dispute behind school attack
      Timeline: China school attacks

    "They're also looking at the reasons why this is happening in order to stop the momentum of this string of killings," she said.

    "It's nothing new for premier Wen to be talking about social harmony, that's a big part of his governance.

    "But it is new that that he has decided to connect these two issues."

    Sociologists have suggested that the attacks reflect the tragic consequences of ignoring mental illness and rising stress resulting from huge social inequalities in China's fast-changing society.

    The attackers in recent cases have all been men in their thirties or forties, most of them out of work.

    Triggers for the assaults have been said to be grievances over lost jobs, business failures, broken relationships, and a new home that officials had ordered torn down.

    China bans nearly all citizens from owning handguns, and the attackers have used knives, cleavers and, in one case, a hammer.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?