Police arrested the suspected driver of a red SUV that struck a large group of people at the square in Hengyang, the seat of Hengdong county of Hunan province late on Wednesday.
About 46 people were injured, including three with serious injuries, the city government office in charge of online information and propaganda said late on Wednesday. The office previously said some victims had been stabbed.
On Thursday, photos and videos from the attack were censored on the Chinese microblog Weibo. Most media reported versions of the city government’s official account, that police had been sent immediately to the site of the attack and had restrained the suspect. One video posted on Twitter showed people streaming out of the square.
Beijing Youth Daily, a publication of the ruling Communist party’s youth league, said on its official microblog that police were investigating the crash. There was no mention of terrorism or any other motive.
Police identified the suspect as a 54-year-old Chinese man named Yang Zanyun from the same county, who had served several prison sentences for convictions including arson and assault, the newspaper said.
China has experienced violent attacks in public places in recent years, including bombings and arson of buses and buildings, sometimes by people trying to settle personal scores or express grievances against society.
Authorities often do not disclose further details about the incidents or the motives of assailants. In June, a man stabbed and killed two young boys outside a primary school in Shanghai. Local media said pedestrians had caught and restrained the man. In July, a man detonated a low-grade homemade bomb outside the US embassy. Police did not disclose any suspected motive.
Occasionally, the attacks are attributed to militant separatists, though such attacks have become less common in recent years.
In 2013, an SUV plowed through a crowd in front of Beijing’s Forbidden City before crashing and catching fire, killing five, including the vehicle’s three occupants. Police blamed the attack on Muslim separatists from the Uighur ethnic minority group.