4 killed in Japan gun and knife attack, suspect detained
Japanese police have detained a suspect who had been hiding in a building after allegedly killing four people, including two police officers, in a gun and knife attack near the city of Nakano in Nagano region. The man was taken into custody outside the farm property, with a fourth fatality confirmed overnight—an elderly woman who was found injured at the scene and later pronounced dead.
The incident marks a rare instance of violent crime in Japan, which has a low murder rate and some of the world’s strictest gun laws. The suspect hid for several hours in the house, which belonged to his father, the speaker of the Nakano city assembly, according to the Kyodo news agency. He allegedly stabbed his victims with a large knife before using a hunting rifle to shoot two policemen who responded to emergency calls.
Authorities had urged people to stay indoors in the semi-rural area of central Japan after the rampage began on Thursday afternoon. The slain officers were identified as Yoshiki Tamai, 46 years old, and Takuo Ikeuchi, 61 years old. Two women, including the suspect’s mother, escaped the house where the suspect was hiding—one at around 8.35pm and the other soon after midnight.
A witness told the NHK public broadcaster he had been working at a nearby farm when “a woman came running from the road saying, ‘help me’, and she fell down.”
“Behind her came a man wearing camouflage and carrying a large knife, who stabbed her in the back,” the 72-year-old witness said. He said he called emergency services while neighbours tried to resuscitate the woman.
NHK, citing police, said the attacker then fired what appeared to be a shotgun at police officers who arrived at the scene. The officers were inside a patrol car, and the attacker placed the weapon against a window of the vehicle and fired twice.
No clear motive has been identified for the assault. In July last year, Japan was stunned by the public assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed with a seemingly homemade weapon. Tetsuya Yamagami, the alleged murderer, reportedly targeted Abe due to his connections with the Unification Church.
In a separate incident last month, a man was apprehended for allegedly throwing an explosive resembling a pipe bomb at Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as he campaigned in Wakayama, a city in western Japan. Kishida was unharmed, and the individual arrested at the scene is scheduled to undergo a three-month psychological evaluation, as per a regional court announcement this week. The suspect has reportedly remained silent about his intentions behind the unsuccessful attack.
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