9 killed after SUV plows into crowd in central China

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A man has driven a auto into a busy square in southern China, killing at least nine people and injuring 43, local government officials say.

The vehicle drove onto the square in Mishui town, part of Hengyang city in Hunan province, in the early evening on Wednesday, the Hengyang government said in a statement.

Eyewitness footage uploaded to social media shows multiple bodies strewn across the square with people tending to the injured on the blood-soaked pavement, to the sounds of despairing screams all around.

The government originally said three people died, but raised the death toll to nine in a statement late on Wednesday.

One video, taken from above the square, showed dozens of people running from the area, screaming.

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A local government statement described the event as a "deliberate, malicious case of driving with intent to injure". Local officials said these clashes with the law had caused Yang to harbor a desire to exact "revenge on society".

The driver, Yang Zanyun, 54, first ploughed through the people with his vehicle and later got out of it and went on a rampage attacking people with a knife.

He had previously served time in prison for arson, some drug-related offences and assault. No other motive has been offered.

Knife attacks by disgruntled people in public places and schools to highlight their grievances periodically occur in China.

"There was a vicious incident that a person drove deliberately into crowds at Mijiang Square of Hengdong County", the release said. Police blamed the attack on Uighur extremists inspired by jihadi ideology.

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