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Gun safety demo wounds five in China

AFP-JIJI

A policeman’s handgun went off accidentally when two officers held a safety demonstration at a kindergarten in China to mark International Children’s Day, injuring one child and four parents.

The gun discharged accidentally and a bullet hit the ground, sending shards of cement flying into the air, wounding the five people, said police authorities in Zhengzhou, Henan province. They sustained injuries to their arms and legs and were rushed to a hospital, but doctors said none of the wounds was life-threatening, police added on the microblogging service Sina Weibo.

The two police officers are being held in solitary confinement, and three of their supervisors have been suspended, authorities said in a separate posting Thursday. “The Zhengdong police station offers deep apologies to those injured in the incident, their relatives and society,” it said.

China bans its citizens from owning firearms, and police are not normally armed for day to day duties. But many places, including Beijing, Shanghai and the southern province of Guangdong, have recently ordered police to patrol with guns in the wake of a string of attacks targeting civilians. The attacks have been blamed on separatists from the restive Xinjiang region, home to mostly Muslim Uighurs.

Weibo posters were outraged by the incident. “Didn’t they give a thought to whether taking a gun to a kindergarten would scare the kids?” asked one user. “How could a gun discharge without a cause? I suspect the police officer had never played with a gun before.”

Another user added, “It’s lucky it was not a bomb demonstration.”