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In this photo taken Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010, a policeman walks near a smashed car and shop at Yuanshi county, in north China's Hebei province. A drunken shovel loader driver went on a rampage in northern China, smashing into shops and vehicles and killing 11 people, a government spokesman said Monday.

/AP

The death toll has risen to 17 after a drunk driver at the wheel of his bucket loader tore through a rural community in northern China, residents said Tuesday, the latest in a string of grisly rampage attacks across the country.

Families of the victims mourned their loved ones at funerals across Yuanshi County in the northern province of Hebei, two days after 38-year-old Li Xianliang went on his killing spree.

Shattered buildings, crushed cars and splintered trees testified to the severity of the damage inflicted by the massive machine.

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Mr. Li drove off in his loader Sunday afternoon after killing his boss at the coal depot where he worked after the two men fought about money while drinking.

Apparently picking his victims at random, Mr. Li smashed his way down a tree-lined road, running over motorcycles and small cars and ripping into buses. In some cases, he stopped to flip the vehicles with his bucket before crushing them under his wheels, residents said, adding that the youngest victim was 5 years old.

Villagers, some hanging onto the side of the vehicle, attempted to stop the mayhem, one of them stabbing Li several times with a kitchen knife. Mr. Li drove back to the coal depot and, bleeding heavily, brandished a crowbar but was overcome when villager Wang Xinjiang kicked him in the groin and pinned him to the ground.

"He came down (from the vehicle) and said 'I'm a dead man anyway! I'm dead anyway,"' said Wang, a former soldier.

Friends and family gathered to offer condolences at one home where the bodies of a 34-year-old housewife and her young daughter were laid out in coffins, according to custom.

"We didn't know him. We don't know why he did it. It is just like some natural disaster that came along," said the woman's husband, who identified himself only by his surname, Liu.

Mr. Li was taken into custody and almost certainly faces the death penalty for murder. Calls to local government officials, who on Monday put the death toll at 11, rang unanswered on Tuesday.

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A series of apparently unrelated rampage attacks across China in recent months have left dozens of people dead and scores wounded.

Assailants, most of them wielding knives, have targeted kindergartens and elementary schools, a courthouse, and random victims at markets and on a train.

The attacks have prompted calls for more efforts to diagnose and treat serious mental illnesses, and have ignited fears about the nation's emotional health.

Authorities have responded with increased security at schools and orders to limit media coverage of the incidents to discourage copycat attacks.

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