BEIJING - A Chinese woman who allegedly hacked off the ears of her six-year-old nephew has been arrested, state media reported Friday, in a chilling assault that police say was triggered by a family dispute.
The attack, which took place in central China's Hubei province, has echoes of a case last August in which a six-year-old boy had his eyes brutally gouged out by his aunt.
On January 28, Zhang Qihui, 35, got into a fight with family members in Wanghe Village over housing construction, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local police.
Shortly after the argument, Zhang took her nephew down an alleyway and used a fruit knife to slice off his ears and cut his chin, Xinhua said.
The nephew was brought to hospital and later discharged after one of his ears was reconnected.
Zhang is now in custody and an investigation is under way, the report added.
Photos of the nephew's bloodied face circulated widely on China's popular social networking sites on Friday, drawing strong reactions from the country's Internet users.
"How is it possible for people to be so psychotic?" wrote one user of Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter. "What a poor child, and a sad family," wrote another.
Several web users said the case made them recall last year's story of Guo Bin, known as Bin Bin, a six-year-old boy who was found covered in blood and with his eyes removed near his home in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi.
The suspect in that case, Bin Bin's aunt, killed herself days later. Months later, Bin Bin was fitted with prosthetic eyeballs by a doctor at a hospital in the southern boom town of Shenzhen.