(Rio de Janeiro) Four children were stabbed to death Wednesday at a daycare center in southern Brazil by a 25-year-old man who turned himself in to authorities, in a country where attacks on schools have increased in recent years. last years.

The tragedy took place early in the morning, in a private daycare center in Blumenau, a city of about 360,000 inhabitants in the state of Santa Catarina.

β€œAn individual entered the school with a bladed weapon and killed four children. There are also four injured,” a local government source in the southern state told AFP.

“It is with enormous sadness that I learned that an assassin had broken into the Cantinho do Bom Pastor private daycare center in Blumenau and attacked children and employees,” Governor Jorginho Mello said. in a press release.

The town hall of Blumenau decreed an official 30-day mourning and canceled classes at all municipal schools on Wednesday.

According to several media, the children were killed with a small axe. The victims, three boys and a girl, were between the ages of four and seven, according to the G1 news site.

Among the injured were two five-year-old girls and two boys, three and five, all “in stable condition”, the local Santo Antonio hospital told AFP.

In a testimony to the website of the daily Folha de S. Paulo, a daycare worker said she locked the room where the babies were to protect them from the assailant.

This new attack in a school has aroused great emotion throughout Brazil. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva immediately sent a message of condolence to the families, condemning this “monstrous” act.

β€œThere is no greater pain for a family than to lose children, or grandchildren, especially in an act of violence against innocent and helpless children,” the head of state tweeted. .

Military Police said the suspect, a 25-year-old man, had surrendered and was taken into custody.

The situation was tense around the nursery: images from the G1 site showed a heavy presence of rescuers and law enforcement, while several dozen people waited for news behind the security cordon.

“Calm down, only parents” are allowed in, shouted a policeman.

Last week, a 71-year-old teacher was stabbed to death by a 13-year-old student in Sao Paulo (southeast), Brazil’s most populous city and economic capital.

A tragedy also took place at a daycare center in 2017, when a man set fire to the establishment, killing nine children and a teacher and injuring around 40 people.

The deadliest attack took place in 2011, when a former elementary school student killed 12 children before ending his life with a gun in the working-class neighborhood of Realengo, Rio de Janeiro ( South East).