BEIJING (AFP) – An explosion outside a primary school in China killed two people and injured 44 others on Monday, most of them schoolchildren, state-run media said.
The blast in Guilin, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the south, occurred as a man riding a motorcycle passed the school gate while children were arriving for classes, China's official Xinhua news agency said.
"First, the motorcycle caught fire and then exploded with a tremendous noise that could be heard from far, far away," a witness told Xinhua.
The cause of the explosion was not clear.
A man and a woman were killed immediately and 44 others were injured, including 11 who were in a serious condition, Xinhua quoted police as saying.
The news agency earlier said the injured included 26 pupils and two infants, who were taken to a military hospital hospital in Guilin, with five of them in critical condition.
Local reports said that the motorcycle driver died in the explosion.
Pictures posted online showed the mangled remains of a three wheeled motorcycle on the ground and another two wheeled vehicle in flames outside the school, with several people sitting on the ground bleeding.
A local official in Lingchaun County, where the explosion occurred, confirmed the death toll to AFP without offering further details.
Police in Guilin have begun a search for illegal explosives in the city, Xinhua said.
Posters on China's popular Sina Weibo service, which is similar to Twitter, were outraged.
"Keep asking why the harmonious society is not harmonious, and address the fundamental problems," said one.
Another added: "Why is it always aimed at children? Can't we do something to stop violence?"
China has been hit by a number of attacks on schoolchildren in recent years, including a spate of five incidents in 2010 that killed 15 children and two adults and wounded more than 80.
A knife-wielding attacker stabbed 22 students at a primary school in central Henan province last December, before being chased out of the school by several adults wielding brooms.
The attacks have led schools to step-up safety precautions, making it harder for would-be attackers to enter.
Most such incidents involve knife attacks. But a man injured himself when he set off a homemade bomb at Beijing's international airport in July, in a protest at police brutality. Reports said that a 2005 police beating had left him paralysed.