BEIJING, China - A car ploughed into a group of students and adults in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, killing five children and leaving 18 others, including two adults injured.
According to China's state news media, the incident took place in broad daylight on Thursday, when a black Audi car veered across the centerline of a street in Huludao city in Liaoning Province, and rammed into the group of students and adults.
The China Central Television said in its report that the incident occurred at around 12.30 pm local time outside a primary school and said that five children were killed instantly, while 16 minors and two adults suffered injuries.
Following the incident, China's social media sites were flooded with images and a graphic video from a CCTV that showed several children crossing a road, when a car in the distance seems to be heading for the group without any signs of slowing down.
The video then shows the group of schoolchildren lying sprawled on the road after the dark-coloured sedan swerved into the wrong side of traffic and crashed into them.
The driver reportedly drove away from the spot and the country's state media later confirmed that the suspect was arrested two hours later, in a rural area outside Huludao city.
In a separate report later in the day, the Beijing Youth Daily published photos of the police arresting the driver, who was a young man wearing a gray jacket.
The local police have said that the case is under investigation and have refused to comment on what prompted the driver's violent actions.
Despite some reports labelling it a terrorist attack and online commenters dubbing the incident another case of baofu shehui (revenge on society by attacking random civilians), police in northeastern China have refused to comment on the cause of the attack.
Cases of baofu shehui often target schoolchildren and are usually carried out by individual attackers armed with knives.
In Thursday's incident, witnesses described the incident and said that about a dozen children were lying on the ground, with some of them bleeding profusely.
Witnesses added that the entire group that was struct by the car included children that were aged about 7 or 8 years old.
The incident, described by government officials as a "major traffic accident," comes at a time when the country is facing an increased number of deliberate attacks against children over the last few years.
Last month, a woman in the southwestern city of Chongqing slashed and injured 14 kindergarten children as they were returning to class after their morning exercises.
In another incident last month, a knife-wielding man slammed a car into pedestrians in Ningbo, east China, leaving two people dead and over a dozen others injured.
In September, 11 people were killed and 44 others suffered injuries after a man deliberately drove an SUV into people at a plaza in the central province of Hunan.
He then jumped out of the car and started attacking victims with a dagger and a shovel.
Before that, in June, a man used a kitchen knife to attack three children and a parent near a school in Shanghai, killing two children.
In April, nine students were killed by an attacker outside a middle school in Shaanxi Province.
The spate of violent attacks targeting children have been triggered by mental health issues, a desire to retaliate against others over personal problems, unemployment and other financial problems.