Nursery school guard kills toddlers in arson attack

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RIO DE JANEIROA:  Brazilian nursery school guard burned four toddlers and their teacher to death after spraying them with alcohol and setting them alight on Thursday.

Dozens of people were also hurt in the blaze while the guard, who was reported to be mentally ill, died after succumbing to his own burn injuries.

The tragedy occurred in Janauba, a city of 70,000 about 600km north of Belo Horizonte city. Janauba's mayor decreed seven days of mourning.

About 50 people were hospitalised with injuries, said Mr Bruno Santos, director of the local hospital. Their condition was not known.

The guard, aged about 50, died in hospital several hours after the incident that left him "with burns all over his body", Mr Santos told AFP.

About 80 children were in the nursery school when the attack occurred, prompting worried parents to converge on the site, which they found reduced to ashes.

"As the creche is near our house, we heard noise and rushed over," said Mr Nelson Silva, the father of one victim.

"My little girl was so good, so smart," he said of his dead daughter Ana Ferreira.- AFP