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School hostage-taker shot by police

A convicted criminal who took 50 elementary school students and a teacher hostage has been shot dead by Chinese police.

The Ministry of Public Security said on its microblog that officers shot the man and were searching the school in Hubei province for any explosives that might have been hidden by him.

State media reports identified the hostage-taker as Zhang Zeqing, who had previously served prison terms for robbery and illegal gun-making.

They said he had agreed to exchange the students and teacher for the deputy mayor of the surrounding town of Haokou, but was shot after he poured petrol over the official.

China has suffered a spate of school attacks, some of them deadly and most linked to mentally ill people or those bearing grudges.

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