HAIKOU - More than 10 men armed with knives burst into two dormitories at a vocational college early on Wednesday and slashed nine students, two of them seriously, sparking new fears in a country already on edge following a series of horrific assaults.
Four students had been wounded in an earlier confrontation between the two groups, bringing the total number of injured to 13, according to local authorities.
The predawn attack took place in Haikou, the capital of South China's island province of Hainan, when more than 10 men burst into two dormitories at the Hainan Institute of Science and Technology and randomly started hacking at students.
The assailants attacked a guard and disabled a security camera before gaining access to the dormitories.
Among the wounded, two were severely injured, with one student having his hand cut off. Following eight hours of surgery at the Haikou City People's Hospital, their conditions were not considered to be life threatening.
Students from the school, who accompanied the injured to the hospital, said the violence began late on Tuesday when a confrontation took place at a food stall outside the campus with some men from the surrounding villages.
Four students were attacked with knives in the incident and the police were called, they said, but left after questioning the students.
The villagers then called for reinforcements and attacked the school at about 2:30 am on Wednesday, witnesses said.
According to school authorities, all students were required to return to the college before 8.30 pm on Wednesday to assist the police with their investigation.
The attack follows five separate assaults against school children, some as young as 3, in the last two months, which have left 17 dead and more than 50 wounded, including some adults.
The violence has resulted in security being tightened at schools across China, with nervous parents accompanying their children to and from school, while police and security guards are now permanently posted at school gates.