Seven killed in Tokyo stabbing rampage

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The Independent Online

A man police said was on a murder mission plowed into pedestrians with a truck in a crowded Tokyo neighborhood Sunday and then stabbed 17 people in three minutes, killing at least seven in a grisly attack that shocked Japan.

The lunchtime assault — on the seventh anniversary of a mass stabbing in Japan in 2001 - sent thousands of pedestrians into a panic in Tokyo's crowded Akihabara district, an electronics and video game area wildly popular among the country's cyber-wise youth.

A 25-year-old man, Tomohiro Kato, was arrested with blood on his face. Police said Kato provided no motive for the attack - other than he wanted to murder strangers.

"The suspect told police that he came to Akihabara to kill people," said Jiro Akaogi, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

"He said he was tired of life. He said he was sick of everything," Akaogi said.

The violence began when he crashed a rented, two-ton truck into pedestrians. Kato jumped out and began stabbing the people he'd knocked down with the truck, then turned on horrified onlookers, police said.

Police confirmed seven deaths — six men and one woman — but they could not say whether the victims had died of injuries from the truck or were stabbed to death.

Reports said the attacker grunted and roared as he slashed and stabbed at Sunday shoppers crowding a street lined with huge stores packed with computers and other advanced electronics, and the latest in video and computer games.

"He was screaming as he was stabbing people at random," an unidentified male witness told public broadcaster NHK.

A witness also told NHK the suspect dropped his knife after police threatened to shoot him. Amateur video filmed by mobile phone showed policemen overpowering the bespectacled, bloodied suspect.

The attack paralyzed the district and sent thousands of Sunday shoppers into a panic. Amateur video taken five minutes after the rampage showed shoppers helping victims and a man screaming, "Ambulance, Ambulance!"

At least 17 ambulances rushed to the scene, and rescue workers feverishly tended to victims in the blood-pooled street.

As night fell on Akihabara, several pedestrians stopped by and prayed at the crime scene. A bouquet of flowers, bottles of green tea and incense sticks were placed at the site.

Once rare, stabbing attacks have become more frequent in Japan in recent years as violent crime has increased.

In March, one person was stabbed to death and at least seven others were hurt by a man who went on a slashing spree with two knives outside a shopping mall in eastern Japan. In one of the worst attacks, a man with a history of mental illness burst into an elementary school in Japan on June 9, 2001, and killed eight children. The killer was executed in 2004.