Schoolboy hijacks bus in Japan

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The Independent Online

A schoolboy armed with a knife hijacked a bus carrying about 20 people in southwestern Japan, and a woman who escaped by jumping off the vehicle as it was moving said at least two passengers were stabbed, police said.

A schoolboy armed with a knife hijacked a bus carrying about 20 people in southwestern Japan, and a woman who escaped by jumping off the vehicle as it was moving said at least two passengers were stabbed, police said.

Police cars chased the 40-seat bus down Sanyo Expressway in Yamaguchi Prefecture today as the hijacker held the knife against the driver's body, according to national and local police.

About five hours after the hijacking began, police stopped the bus in a parking area alongside the highway in Hiroshima city. Shortly before that, the bus stopped near a tunnel and the hijacker released four male passengers, police said. It was not immediately clear if any of them were injured. The release left about a dozen people, including some children, aboard.

Police gathered around the bus and appeared to be talking with the hijacker through an open window.

Passengers who were freed said the hijacker's knife was between 40 and 60 centimeters long.

Authorities said they had no idea what might have motivated the hijacker, whom they described as a young man.

Police said they first found out about the hijacking when a woman passenger was let off the bus at a toll booth near the city of Moji to go to the bathroom and she called authorities.

Afterward, another woman passenger jumped off the bus as it was driving, said Yamaguchi Prefecture police spokesman Junichi Takezaki. She was injured and taken to a nearby hospital, where told police she saw the hijacker stab and seriously wound at least two passengers before she fled the bus.

For hours, television stations in Japan showed the white bus driving down the highway followed by police cars, and TV and police helicopters. The curtains in the bus' windows were closed.

Kenichiro Noda, a spokesman for Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., which owns the bus, said the company was unable to contact the driver on its wireless radio after the hijacking occurred. The company's bus department are praying for the safety of the passengers," Yuji Kubo, a Nishi-Nippon official, told reporters.

The hijacking occurred about 1 p.m. (5:00 am BST) on Sanyo Expressway near the town of Dazaifu in neighboring Fukuoka prefecture, police officer Junichi Takezaki.

The vehicle was hijacked while traveling from Saga city on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu to Fukuoka city.

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