Officials say four Cornell College instructors were injured in a stabbing attack in China

Four instructors associated with Cornell College in Iowa were injured in a “serious incident” at a park in China, the university said Monday. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that no foreigners were seriously injured in what it said was an “isolated incident.”

The instructors were in China teaching through a program in partnership with a local university and were injured during a day visit to a public park, Jonathan Brand, the university’s chancellor, said in a statement. He added that at the time of the attack, the instructors were accompanied by an employee of the university’s partner university in China. No students from the small liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, were participating in the program at the time.

State Rep. Adam Zabner said one of the victims was his brother, David Zabner, who was making his second trip to China with Cornell. According to MP Zabner, the group was visiting a local temple when they were attacked by a man armed with a knife. David Zabner, a graduate student at Tufts who previously taught at Cornell, was stabbed in the arm and is recovering in the hospital, his brother said.

“He has not been released yet this morning, but he is doing well,” Rep. Zabner told CBS News.

People gather around American educators from the University of Iowa who were reportedly injured in an accident at a public park in Jilin City, Jilin Province, China on June 10, 2024, as seen in an image from a video obtained by Reuters. CBS News has withheld the identity of one of the injured people.

Obtained by Reuters

A U.S. State Department spokesman told CBS News the department is aware of “reports of a stabbing incident in Jilin,” in northeastern China, although the spokesman did not provide further details.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday during a regular news conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said the incident was still under investigation, but police had initially determined it appeared to be a random, isolated attack. Lin said the ministry did not expect it would affect “normal exchanges” of people between China and the United States.

“Four foreign teachers from Beihua University in Jilin city were attacked while visiting the city’s Beishan Park,” Lin told reporters on Tuesday. “All the injured were taken to hospital and received appropriate medical attention. The condition of none of them is critical. Based on the initial assessment, police believe this was an isolated incident. Further investigation is still ongoing.”

“Cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States serve the common interests of both sides and are positively supported by various sectors of both countries,” she said, adding: “China is widely regarded as one of the safest countries in the world. China has taken and will continue to take appropriate measures to protect the safety of foreigners in China. We believe that this isolated incident will not disrupt normal cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.”

Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, also characterized the attack as a stabbing and wrote on social media: “I am horrified that multiple Cornell College faculty members were brutally stabbed in China. My team has reached out to Cornell College and will do everything we can to bring Iowans home safely.

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said her office is in contact with the U.S. Embassy in China to ensure victims of the attack receive high-quality care and a safe return home.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she is in contact with the state’s federal delegation as well as the State Department. “Please pray for their full recovery, safe return and for their families at home,” Reynolds wrote on social media.