Knife attack in Japan, nineteen killed, dozens wounded

By Reuters/William Mallard   July 26, 2016 | 08:07 am GMT+7
Knife attack in Japan, nineteen killed, dozens wounded
Police officers are seen near a facility for the disabled where at least 19 people were killed and as many as 20 wounded by a knife-wielding man, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 26, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via Reuters

The sudden attack happened at a facility for disabled southwest of Tokyo.

Nineteen people were killed and dozens were wounded after an attack by a knife-wielding man at a facility for the disabled in central Japan early on Tuesday, media reported, in Japan's worst mass killing in decades.

Police in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Tokyo, have arrested Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year-old former employee at the facility, Japanese media reported.

They said staff called police at 2.30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT Monday) with reports of a man armed with a knife on the grounds of the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility.

The 3-hectare (7.6 acre) facility, established by the local government and nestled on the wooded bank of the Sagami River, cares for people with a wide range of disabilities, NHK said, quoting an unidentified employee.

knife-attack-in-japan-nineteen-killed-dozens-wounded

Rescue workers are seen in a facility for the disabled, where a deadly attack by a knife-wielding man took place, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 26, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via Reuters

Police had recovered a bag with several knives, at least one stained with blood, NHK said. No details were provided about where the knives were found.

The man, wearing a black T-shirt, did not have a knife when he turned himself in at a nearby police station, other reports said. Police said they were still investigating possible motives.

Asahi Shimbun reported that the suspect was quoted by police as saying: "I want to get rid of the disabled from this world."

Fifteen people were initially confirmed dead, while four were said to be in cardiac arrest, media reports said. Kyodo later said the death toll stood at 19.

There was confusion about the number of wounded, with reports fluctuating between 20 and 45.

Twenty-nine emergency squads responded to the attack, Kyodo reported, with those wounded taken to at least six hospitals in the western Tokyo area.

A man identified as the father of a patient in the facility told NHK he learned about the attack on the radio and had received no information from the center.

"I'm very worried but they won't let me in," he said, standing just outside a cordon of yellow crime-scene tape.

The man, who arrived at the scene around 5 a.m. (2000 GMT Monday), said he had never heard of trouble at the facility before.

NHK reported that the facility is usually locked at night but the man broke into the building by smashing a window.

knife-attack-in-japan-nineteen-killed-dozens-wounded-1

A police officer stands guard in front of a facility for the disabled, where a deadly attack by a knife-wielding man took place, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, July 26, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Issei Kato

knife-attack-in-japan-nineteen-killed-dozens-wounded-2

A firefigters' rescue unit car drives in front of a facility for the disabled, where a deadly attack by a knife-wielding man took place, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, July 16, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Issei Kato

knife-attack-in-japan-nineteen-killed-dozens-wounded-3

A facility for the disabled, where at least 19 people were killed and as many as 20 wounded by a knife-wielding man, is seen in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 26, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via Reuters

The facility's website said the center had a maximum capacity of 160 people, including staff.

Social media went into overdrive as news of the mass stabbing broke. "I can't stop shaking. What a terrible incident, it's just too much," one post on Twitter said.

Such mass killings are extremely rare in Japan and typically involve stabbings due to Japan's strict gun laws.

Eight children were stabbed to death at their school in Osaka by a former janitor in 2001. Seven people died in 2008 when a man drove a truck into a crowd and began stabbing people in Tokyo's popular electronics and "anime" district of Akihabara.

Members of a doomsday cult killed 12 and made thousands ill in 1995 in simultaneous attacks with sarin nerve gas on five Tokyo rush-hour subway trains. 

Related news:

Man held after Germany knife attacks

 
go to top