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Suspect Held for Fatal Kindergarten Arson Attack
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A teenager has been arrested in connection with an arson attack on a kindergarten in central China's Henan Province on Monday that killed three children.


13 other children and one teacher were injured in the incident, which took place in the village of Shiguan, Gongyi city, at about 9 AM on Monday.


Police arrested Bai Ningyang, a 19-year-old local unemployed man, yesterday, sources with local police told China News Service's website.


He was found in a cave in the nearby mountains following a search involving 800 police officers.


Police said Bai stormed into a classroom on the second floor of the kindergarten, locked the doors, emptied two bottles of petrol in the room and set the place on fire. 21 children and a teacher were in the classroom at the time.


Bai reportedly ordered one child to leave the room before he set it ablaze because he knew the child's parents, police said.


Two children, both aged five, died at the scene, while a third died later in hospital.


Local residents claimed that Bai's motive was revenge for having been rejected by one of the kindergarten's teachers. She was one of the injured.


These claims could not be verified by police yesterday.


The injured were taken to local hospitals, but some were later transferred to the No 1 People's Hospital in the province's capital, Zhengzhou, because of the severity of their burns.


A doctor at the capital hospital, surnamed Sun, said some victims were still in critical condition.


Police had offered a 20,000 yuan (US$2,500) reward for information leading to the capture of the suspect and had issued a televised appeal.


A local education official told China Daily yesterday that the kindergarten was suspected of being run illegally.


Previous reports have said the kindergarten shares the same courtyard with a factory and the arsonist was able to walk freely through the main gate, which is often left open for the convenience of factory workers.


(China Daily May 10, 2006)

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