Chinese police have arrested the female head of a kindergarten and her male colleague after the deaths of two children from a rival nursery who ate yogurt injected with rat poison.
Chinese state media is reporting that the five-and six-year-old girls died after drinking yogurt they had found in a bag on the side of the road while walking to school with their grandmother on April 24 in Lianghe village, Pingshan county in the Hebei province.
According toChina Daily, the grandmother, named Ren, picked up the bag and took it home.
When her two granddaughters returned in the afternoon they drank the yogurt while she was cooking. The two girls were later found twitching and foaming at the mouth.
The older of the two girls died in an ambulance just hours later. The younger girl died on Wednesday after being hospitalized for a week.
The grandmother, who also took a sip of the yogurt, was also treated in hospital for several days.
Police reportedly believe the poisoning was motivated by fierce competition for students between the ‘rival’ nurseries.
The two girls attended a different nursery to the arrested teachers.
Kindergarten director Shi Haixia and her colleague Yang Wenming “admitted that she injected the poison into the yogurt and her accomplice left it on the street with some notebooks on the way to the rival kindergarten,” China Daily reported on Friday.
“Their intention was to damage the reputation of the rival kindergarten.”
The poison contained a very strong rat toxin called tetramine, the newspaper added, citing a local security official.
Haixia and Wenming were arrested on Wednesday.
The alleged murders have triggered angry debate in China about what is seen as a lack of control and supervision in the country’s primary education system.
China Daily quotes Yuan Ailing of East China Normal, a professor of primary education, who said: “This is an extreme case showing the lack of supervision in preschool education.”
Many children living in China’s rural areas are cared for by their grandparents because their parents have migrated to cities to find work, Agence France-Presse notes.