A former Chinese elementary school teacher has been executed for molesting or raping 26 students, some as young as 4 years old.

The intermediate People's Court in the western province of Gansu says it carried out the sentence against Li Jishun on Thursday after it was upheld by the nation's Supreme People's Court.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said all of Li's victims were girls younger than 12 who attended his village boarding school. It said Li took advantage of his status as teacher and the girls' fear and shyness to repeatedly assault them in the classroom, dormitories and surrounding forest.

The ruling said many of the girls had been left in the village by parents working in cities.