China executes 'kindergarten killer'

China has executed a 31-year-old man dubbed the "kindergarten killer" who murdered a teacher, a 5-year-old boy and three other people during a two-year crime spree, news reports said Wednesday. Fu Hegong was put to death Tuesday in Beijing after being convicted in September of murder, rape, molestation and theft, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reported.

In an attack that received prominent coverage in Chinese media, police said Fu smothered a Beijing kindergarten teacher with a quilt and fatally beat the 5-year-old boy with a fire extinguisher after being spotted sneaking into a school to rob it in October 2004. The killings came in the midst of a rash of unrelated attacks on kindergartens and day care centers in China last year, which prompted President Hu Jintao to order schools to hire guards and tighten security.

Fu also was convicted of killing two people in 2002 with bricks and knives after quarreling with them, and of stabbing a security guard to death in 2004 during a robbery, court reports said. In another case at a different kindergarten, an employee with a history of mental illness killed one student and slashed 17 people in August 2004, a few blocks from the compound in central Beijing where Chinese leaders live.

China has suffered rising crime and violence as the government has loosened social controls over the past two decades, reports the AP. I.L.

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