Taiwan in shock after girl (4) beheaded in cleaver attack

Suspect was attacked and beaten by an angry crowd as police led him away

Police escort a man accused of attacking and murdering a young girl with a cleaver on a street in Taipei, Taiwan. Photograph:  Aden Hsu/AFP Photo

Police escort a man accused of attacking and murdering a young girl with a cleaver on a street in Taipei, Taiwan. Photograph: Aden Hsu/AFP Photo

 

Taiwan was coming to terms with a gruesome reality after a four-year-old girl was decapitated outside a subway station in the capital Taipei in what appears to have been a random attack by a deranged man.

A 33-year-old man, whose name was given as Wang, has been detained in connection to the killing on Monday and he was attacked by an angry crowd shouting “kill him” before police led him away.

TV footage showed the little girl’s body covered in a white cloth on a sidewalk near her bike. A bloodstained cleaver was found near the crime scene.

The slaying took place in full view of the girl’s mother, whose surname was given as Liu. She said her daughter was riding her bike just a metre ahead of her when she got stuck. As the man approached her, the mother thought he was trying to help her on to the pavement, but instead he started to attack her.

“I saw the suspect slashing my daughter with a cleaver. I immediately grabbed him but I could not pull him away,” she said.

She called out for help and passersby and nearby residents rushed to subdue the suspect, she told the Taiwanese Central News Agency.

Mother and daughter, whose nickname was “little light bulb”, were on their way to meet the girl’s grandfather and two of her siblings for lunch when the attack took place.

“Little light bulb told me that she missed her brother and sister, so she wanted to pick them up. But I am very sad. I will never see her again, and she will never see her brother and sister again,” the mother told local media.

The suspected attacker had been wandering around Xihu metro station in Taipei after buying a cleaver from a supermarket earlier in the day. He apparently had a history of mental illness and drug convictions.

The attack has renewed the debate on the death penalty in self-ruled Taiwan. The death penalty is still used but there have been growing calls to abolish it.

The attack was the third random child killing in Taiwan in the past three years. In December 2012, an unemployed man named Tseng Wen-chin murdered a 10-year-old boy in the southern city of Tainan, apparently saying he wanted to be imprisoned.

In June last year, an eight-year-old girl died after her throat was slit by Kung Chung-an (29), who claimed to be looking for a random target at her school in Beitou District in Taipei.

Outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou told reporters he was shocked and saddened to hear about the killing and has asked the cabinet to launch a full investigation into the incident.