updated 7/21/2007 12:55:34 AM ET 2007-07-21T04:55:34

A mentally ill man wielding a wrench wounded 18 children and a teacher in a kindergarten in southern China before fleeing on a motorcycle and trying to stab himself to death, state media reported Saturday.

The man charged into the school Friday afternoon and started trying to hit students on the head, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The man, in his 40s, then escaped after the teacher, Ouyang Liuxing, fought back, Xinhua said.

“I was frightened by the scene and went to stop him,” Ouyang was quoted as saying. “He hit me in the head with the wrench, but I kicked him.”

She said she ordered all the children to squat on the ground, which prevented more students from being hurt.

Police and local government in Jun’an, a town in southern Guangdong province where the attack took place, said they had seen a report in the Foshan Daily newspaper but had no further details.

A man who answered the telephone at the emergency ward of Jun’an Hospital, where the victims were taken, confirmed that they treated the injured but said he wasn’t authorized to talk to the press.

According to the Foshan Daily, the man entered the school pretending to be a parent and stood around as children were leaving for home.

“Suddenly, he used the wrench to hit the head of more than 10 children who were waiting for their parents,” the paper said on its Web site.

When police arrived, “many children were still crying,” it said. “Several were hurt in their heads, hands and feet. Some were still bleeding.”

Police nabbed the attacker at his home and sent him to hospital because he had stabbed himself in the stomach, Xinhua said. He was in stable condition and under close watch, it said.

Sixteen of the children suffered head injuries and two others were sent to hospital but their wounds were not serious, it said. The Foshan Daily said the teacher was not seriously hurt.

The oldest child was seven years old, Xinhua said.

The reason for the attack was still under investigation. The man had a 20-year history of mental illness, it said.

China has witnessed a series of school attacks over the past several years which are often blamed on personal grudges or people with psychiatric problems.

In June, a man slashed four students, wounding one seriously, in a high school in the southern city of Fuzhou.

The same month, police shot dead a suspected mentally ill man who threatened to blow up a school in southern China with dynamite and another man broke into a primary school in Guangdong and killed a 9-year-old boy with a kitchen knife. State media said the attacker had been seen quarreling with the dead boy’s parents in the past.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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