Two preschoolers and four adults were fatally attacked by an ax-wielding assailant Wednesday morning on a street in the city of Gongyi in central China's Henan Province.
One of the preschoolers and three of the adults died at the scene, while the other two victims died in hospital after emergency medical treatment failed to save their lives, according to a city government spokesman.
Both of the preschoolers were girls, aged one and four. The adults included one man and three women. They were attacked on a street in Gongyi's Shecun Township at 8:40 a.m.
Cao Jianli, a civil servant from the township government of Shecun, said the attacker dropped his weapon after seeing that he was surrounded by police.
"I and several of my colleagues rushed out to the street when we heard people crying for help. We used mops to fend off the ax-wielding man and waited for the police to come," Cao said.
Witnesses said the man appeared to be attacking pedestrians at random.
Police have identified the attacker as Wang Hongbin, a 30-year-old local farmer. Police said that the man's medical records indicated that he suffers from schizophrenia.
Li Xiaoqin, a local farmer, said he often saw Wang Hongbin around the neighborhood.
"He looked normal, although people heard that he had some kind of mental illness," said Li.
"It was raining in the morning, and there were not many people on the street. Otherwise, more people could have been killed during the attack," he said.
The city government has set up a work group to investigate the incident.