Taiwan schoolgirl dies after brutal campus attack

Taiwan schoolgirl dies after brutal campus attack

TAIPEI, Taiwan - An 8-year-old girl who had her throat slit by a man believed to be looking for a random target at her school in Taipei died yesterday despite hours of efforts by doctors to save her life, police said.

The girl, surnamed Liu, died of multiple organ failure at Taipei Veterans General Hospital after massive bleeding and severe brain damage resulting from the attack, police cited doctors as saying.

An allegedly delusional suspect, surnamed Kung, 29, was remanded into custody after the Taipei District Court denied him bail over the killing, which occurred at the Taipei Municipal Beitou Wenhua Elementary School on Friday afternoon.

People were seen placing flowers and cards at the front gate of the school to mourn the death of the girl.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said the city government will set up a task force to seek ways to improve campus safety across the city, but it is more pressing to send counselors to the Beitou school to give counseling to its traumatized students and teachers.

The city education director, Tang Chih-min, said the Beitou school will step up campus patrols starting next week by police, security guards, as well as school administrators and volunteer parents.

A check of the school's video surveillance system has also shown "blind spots," which will be patched up by the firm maintaining the system, Tang said.

The education department is also evaluating the need to build higher walls and fences around the school, he added.

The suspect claimed that he had been under a lot of pressure, hearing voices in his head, according to police. He said he had tried to kill himself a few times without success.

Police said Kung was calm and showed no remorse during the interrogation.

Kung was arrested at the school shortly after the attack. Police said he reported the attack to police and did not attempt to escape.

About 200 angry people gathered outside the Beitou Police Precinct Friday evening as he was being interrogated inside. They condemned him for what they called a "cold-blooded murder."

Kung's brother told reporters that the family was shocked by the news of the attack, but admitted they had a difficult relationship and had not been in touch with him for four years.

The brother offered an apology to the victim's family on behalf of the suspect, but said he would not ask the court to show him leniency.

The killing has again sparked a debate on the need for the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crimes.

A man who has been convicted of killing a boy he randomly picked up in a Tainan park has been spared the death penalty by the district court in the southern city and then the Taiwan High Court on the grounds that he is mentally ill.

The boy's aunt, Tseng Pei-chi, responded to the killing of the Taipei schoolgirl by angrily and strongly demanding that the law be changed to give mandatory death sentences to murderers who kill children under the age of 12.

Following his arrest, the Tainan killer has been cited as saying that no one would be sentenced to death for killing only one or two people.

Human rights activists have been campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty. Judges in Taiwan have also been reluctant to mete out the capital punishment.

Tseng said she had knelt before the judge presiding over the trial of her nephew's killer, begging him to hand down the death penalty.

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