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Schools take precautions after threats

(China Daily)

09:11, January 16, 2013

Cao Zaifa (center), the 43-year-old suspect from Chenzhou in Hunan province, is led away by Hunan authorities at a police station in Guangzhou on Monday. (China Daily/Huang Weijun)

Warnings about a man's threat to attack schools on Monday have caused heated debates in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.

Local education authorities first publicized the warning on Monday morning after being informed by police that a man from neighboring Hunan province had threatened to cause bloodshed at kindergartens and a university in Guangzhou.

Schools were then told to take safety precautions and parents were informed to pick up their children and keep them at home on Monday.

Warnings about the threat — including the man's ID number, the type of car he might be using and a picture of him — were widely spread online and in neighborhoods, causing public concern.

An unnamed police officer said it was not appropriate for local education authorities to publicize such warnings.

"The warning has caused a great public panic, and you see that everyone, especially parents, were afraid," the police officer said.

"The real intention behind the threat, possibly, is that the suspect wanted to arouse public concern over his case rather than make real assaults in schools."

In response to public concern, Guangzhou Public Security Bureau posted the warning on its micro blog on Monday afternoon, saying police have been paying close attention to the threat and conducted a citywide manhunt.

The 43-year-old suspect, Cao Zaifa, from Chenzhou, Hunan, turned himself in to police at about 7 pm on Monday, Guangzhou police sources said in a micro blog message.

Police sources said Cao was "unhappy" about the demolition of his home in Hunan and made the threat after he drove to Guangzhou on Friday night.

Zhang Xiang, a lawyer with ETR Law Firm in Guangzhou, also said it was not right to publicize the warning.

"Police between Hunan and Guangzhou have strengthened communication in such a case. I believe that they were cooperating well to prevent a possible incident. That's why they did not first publicize the warning," Zhang said.

"The warning should only be spread among education and police authorities. Otherwise, it would arouse panic among parents," he added.

However, Ma Zhihai, a veteran commentator with Guangzhou's Southern Television, said the public has the right to be informed of the threat.

"If the authorities did not publicize the warnings, parents would be more afraid," he said.

"Police should let the public know what measures they are taking to prevent such possible violence."

Liang Yunfen, the mother of a 4-year-old girl, said she received a text message about the warnings from her daughter's kindergarten on Monday morning.

"Yes, I was afraid when I got such a message. But it is necessary for the school to tell us about the possible violence," she said.

Liang picked up her daughter from the kindergarten earlier than usual on Monday afternoon.

After turning himself in to police in Guangzhou on Monday night, Cao was transferred to police in Hunan, sources with the Guangzhou police said on Tuesday.

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