9 killed after SUV plows into crowd in central China

Car PLOUGHS into crowd in busy square - three dead and 43 injured

Nine people died and 46 were injured after a auto ploughed into a crowded square in southern China on Wednesday and police have detained the driver, the local government said.

The attack happened at about 7:40 p.m. local time on Wednesday when scores of people were walking and dancing on Binjiang Square in Mishui, a large town near Hengyang city in Hunan province.

Several bystanders posted graphic video footage shortly after the incident on Chinese social media.

Nine people were killed and 46 others were injured, state-run Global Times reported.

According to the record on China Judgments Online website, the 54-year-old Yang was born in Hengdong county, Hunan province, has a junior high school education level and is unemployed.

Police have detained the driver of the vehicle, who they say had a criminal record, according to the local government.

He had previously served time in prison for arson, some drug-related offences and assault. Authorities have no yet given a motive and no official mention of terrorism has been made.

A local government statement described it as a "deliberate, malicious case of driving with intent to injure".

In 2013, an SUV ploughed through a crowd in front of Beijing's Forbidden City before crashing and catching fire, killing five, including the vehicle's three occupants.

Officials said in the hours after the attack that nine people had been killed.

But the Chinese government has long anxious about the potential for extremists or separatist groups to carry out similar attacks.

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