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China orders tighter school security after attacks

BEIJING - When classes resume Tuesday, police officers and vans will be stationed outside school gates in the bustling southwestern city of Chongqing and new video surveillance and intruder alarms will be keeping watch over classrooms in eastern Fujian.

Guards patrolling schools in southeastern Jiangxi will carry police batons and pepper spray.

Chinese authorities have ordered tighter school security nationwide, part of the government's effort to assert control and calm public fears after three straight attacks on schools last week that left a few dozen children injured.

The latest attack occurred Friday, when a farmer used a motorcycle to break down the gate of a primary school in the eastern city of Weifang. He struck five students with a hammer, then poured gasoline over his body and burned himself to death, reports said.

Schools were closed Monday for a public holiday.

The rollout of measures underscores the government's desire to position itself as being in command in a situation that has given rise to worries about the safety of the country's schools.

Public safety scandals in which children are the main victims have been a focal point of public anger in recent years, from the deaths of 5,000 students crushed in shoddily built schools in a 2008 earthquake to a tainted milk scandal that sickened 300,000 babies months later. Since late last year, more than 3,000 children have suffered lead poisoning from polluting factories built near villages. - AP

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