A middle-age man went on a stabbing rampage at a bus stop in Kawasaki near Tokyo killing two and injuring 16, mostly schoolgirls, before taking his own life early on Tuesday.
Citing witnesses, Kawasaki police (station above) said the suspect in his 50s wearing glasses, a black shirt, trousers and backpack approached a group of girls of Caritas Elementary School waiting for their bus at a stop in Tama area around 7.40 am.
The man suddenly whipped out two long knives and started stabbing them after yelling, “I will kill you!”
Witnesses said the children screamed for help as they started falling to the ground.
Hanako Kuribayash, 11, a local student, and Satoshi Oyama, 39, a foreign ministry official from Tokyo, died at the crime scene.
Police found the unnamed assailant lying motionless a few metres away from his victims with a self-inflicted stab wound to his neck. He later died in a hospital.
Police recovered two knives from the crime scene and two more from the assailant’s backpack.
Two schoolchildren and a woman being treated for stab injuries are in a serious condition, hospital sources said.
Oyama had come to the bus stop to see off his daughter to school. His daughter was not injured in the attack.
Reports said the man did not spare children inside the school bus when it halted at the stop. He got off the vehicle only when the bus driver started shouting at him. He then walked a few paces away, stabbed himself in the neck and slumped to the ground.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the attack and said children’s safety should be protected at any cost.
Visiting US President Donald Trump offered his prayers and sympathy to the victims and said all Americans stand with the people of Japan and families of the victims.
Such mass attacks are rare in Japan having one of the lowest crime rates among developed countries.
In 2001, eight students of a schools in Osaka were killed by a knife-wielding man.
In 2016, 19 people at a care centre were stabbed to death by a former worker who wanted those with disabilities to “disappear”.
In 2017, three members of a family were killed in sword attack near a Tokyo shrine.