SUV crashes into crowd at square in central China, killing 9

BEIJING — An SUV crashed into a crowd at a public square in central China on Wednesday evening, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 40 others, the city government said.

Police arrested the suspected driver of a red SUV that plowed into a large group of people at the square in the seat of Hengdong county in Hunan Province, according to a government microblog account.

Around 46 people were injured, the Hengyang city government office in charge of online information and propaganda said.

The Beijing Youth Daily, a publication of the ruling Communist Party's youth league, said on its official microblog account police were investigating the crash. There was no mention of terrorism or any other motive.

Police identified the suspect as a 54-year-old Chinese man named Yang Zanyun from the same county. He had previously served several prison sentences for crimes including arson and assault, the newspaper said.

Calls to the Hengdong county public security bureau rang unanswered while an official who picked up the phone at the county government office would only confirm the death toll before hanging up the phone.

China has experienced violent attacks in public places in recent years, including bombings and arson of buses and buildings, sometimes by people trying to settle personal scores or grievances against society.

Occasionally, the attacks are attributed to militant separatists, though such attacks have become less common in recent years. In 2013, an SUV plowed through a crowd in front of Beijing's Forbidden City before crashing and catching fire, killing five, including the vehicle's three occupants. Police blamed the attack on Muslim separatists from the Uighur ethnic minority group.

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