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Chinese police kill man who took 50 elementary students, 1 teacher hostage

BEIJING, China - A convicted criminal who took 50 elementary school students and a teacher hostage was shot and killed by police in central China on Tuesday, the Public Security Ministry said.

Officers on the scene were searching the school in the Hubei province city of Qianjiang for any explosives that might have been hidden by the suspect, the ministry said on its microblog.

State media reports identified the hostage taker as Zhang Zeqing, who previously served prison terms for robbery and illegal gun making.

They said he had agreed to exchange the students and teacher for the deputy mayor of the surrounding town of Haokou, but was shot after he poured gasoline over the official.

No motive was given for the hostage taking and police said they had no additional details. There was no mention of injuries to the hostages and the deputy mayor's condition wasn't known.

The reports said Zhang possessed a knife and some type of explosives.

China has suffered a spate of school attacks in recent years, most linked to mentally ill people or those bearing grudges.

As a result, security has been heavily increased at many schools, with entrances barred and guards posted.

China has also ordered faster response times for police and emergency services following a series of deadly attacks blamed on Islamic extremists.

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