BEIJING (AP) — An SUV crashed into a crowd at a public square in central China on Wednesday evening, killing at least three people and injuring more than 40 others, an official Chinese newspaper said.

Police have arrested the suspected driver of a red SUV that plowed into a large group of people at the square in the town of Mishui in Hunan province, the Beijing Youth Daily said on its official microblog account.

The newspaper's brief report said police were investigating the crash. There was no mention of terrorism or any other motive.

A preliminary estimate showed that the crash in Hengdong county killed three people and injured 43 others, said the newspaper, a publication of the ruling Communist Party's youth league.

Police identified the suspect as a 54-year-old Chinese man named Yang Zanyun from the same county who had served several prison sentences for convictions including arson and assault, the newspaper said.

Calls to the Hengdong county public security bureau rang unanswered while an official who picked up the phone at the county government office would only confirm the death toll before hanging up the phone.

China has experienced violent attacks in public places in recent years, including bombings and arson of buses and buildings, sometimes by people trying to settle personal scores or grievances against society.

Occasionally, the attacks are attributed to militant separatists, though such attacks have become less common in recent years. In 2013, an SUV plowed through a crowd in front of Beijing's Forbidden City before crashing and catching fire, killed five, including the vehicle's three occupants. Police blamed the attack on Muslim separatists from the Uighur ethnic minority group.

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