TAIYUAN, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Police in north China's Shanxi Province are on a manhunt for a woman who gouged out the eyes of a six-year-old boy.
The Public Security Bureau in Fenxi County on Tuesday posted a public notice offering an award of 100,000 yuan (16,129 U.S. dollars) for tips leading to the capture of the criminal.
The boy, surnamed Guo, was lured by an unknown woman on Saturday evening into a field, where she gouged out his eyes.
The boy's family later found him and rushed him to a local hospital. He was transferred to Shanxi Eye Hospital in the provincial capital of Taiyuan on Sunday.
Doctors at the hospital said the boy would be blind for the rest of his life, although the eyes had been recovered.
Police have initially ruled out the possibility of organ trafficking involvement in the case.
The boy said that the woman, before taking him to the field, had asked him if anybody in his home played mahjong, according to his mother, Wang Wenli.
"We had no disputes with anybody," said Wang, adding that neither she nor her husband, both peasants, had any idea what had driven the criminal to commit the act.
The provincial health authorities have suggested that the cost of the boy's medical treatment be reduced or exempted.
The case, after being exposed on the Internet, instantly went viral, arousing public anger and condemnation of the criminal's cruelty.
"It was so inhuman, so cruel! [The criminal] should be dealt with strictly by law," said Taiyuan citizen Wang Yongwei.
The case has topped the hot topic list at China's popular Sina Weibo microblogging service, attracting tens of thousands of discussions and forwardings within days.
"The brutality [of the criminal] was unbelievable. Let's hope everybody pays more attention to the safety of our children and such things don't happen again," said a Weibo user under the screen name "Anmin_China."
China has recently witnessed a slew of attacks on children, challenging people's tolerance toward such crimes.
On July 23, a middle-aged man lifted a 34-month-old toddler from her carriage and hurled her onto the ground on a Beijing street after he had had a dispute with the baby's mother. The toddler died days later in hospital.
On March 4, 49-year-old Zhou Xijun from Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, stole an SUV parked by the roadside and drove it onto a highway. After finding a baby in the back seat of the vehicle, Zhou strangled the two-month-old infant and buried him in the snow.
Experts say the frequent occurrence of such crimes has underlined the importance of intensified protection of children, especially in rural areas where there tends to be a lower level of care for children, and the need to put in place harsher laws against child abuse.
The Shanxi boy's ordeal also revealed the lack of vigilance among some parents over their children's safety, said Shen Liping, childhood welfare director with the Shanxi Women's Federation.
Guo's mother, Wang, said that the boy left home alone around 5 p.m. on Saturday and had not returned by 7 p.m., when it was time for supper. The family waited another hour before they realized that the boy might be in trouble. He was found in the field at about 10 p.m.
This has indicated that the parents had little awareness about children's safety and protection, according to Shen.
Left-behind children, whose parents go to cities as migrant workers, are more likely to be abused or attacked as their older relatives are less able to offer enough protection to them, said Han Yonghong, assistant dean of the Law School at Shanxi University of Finance and Economics.