Four Dead in Japan After Attack by Man Who ‘Wanted to Kill’

A man armed with a rifle and a knife killed two women and two police officers in the central Japanese city of Nakano on Thursday and barricaded himself inside a house for several hours before escaping, police said.

It was a surprising burst of violence in Japan, where gun-related killings and other gun incidents are rare. Laws governing the purchase and ownership of firearms in Japan are among the strictest in the world.

The attacker, who reportedly told a witness he “wanted to kill”, stabbed a woman before opening fire on two police officers who arrived at the scene. It was not immediately clear how the fourth victim, a woman who was misidentified as a man in initial reports, died.

Police say the suspect was captured early Friday morning after retreating to a home near downtown. It was home. A local elected officialHe was identified by Japanese public broadcaster NHK as the suspect’s father. Police confirmed late Thursday that the two women had escaped from the home.

On Friday, NHK identified the suspect as Masanori Aoki, a 31-year-old farmer, and said he had been arrested for murder in connection with the death of a police officer. More charges were expected.

A witness to the attack told NHK that he was working in a field when a young woman ran towards him and pleaded for help, only to be chased by a man wearing camouflage, a hat and a mask. The man then stabbed her in the back, causing her to fall down, and then stabbed her again in the chest.

“I asked him, ‘Why are you doing this?'” the witness told the broadcaster. “He replied, ‘I hit him because I wanted to.’

The suspect left the scene but returned with a rifle after two police officers arrived in response to the stabbing, the witness said. With his face pressed against the window of his police car, the suspect fired two shots and again fled the scene.

According to local media, around 60 nearby residents were evacuated to a local junior high school and authorities warned others to stay indoors.

Dr Fabio Gigi, chairman of the Japan Research Center at SOAS University, said the emerging details of the attack, which included the public stabbing of a woman and the killing of police officers, made it an “extremely rare” incident. London.

“A direct attack on the police is also a direct attack on authority in general,” he said. “There’s something very startling about it.”

This too was bound to trigger memories. Assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo AbeHe said, who was shot dead last year with a hand-made gun.

“The trauma of homicide is still so low,” Dr. Gigi said. “Not even a year has passed.”

In 2022, only 9 gun-related incidents were reported in Japan, which has a population of 125 million. According to the National Police Agency. Four people died from gun crime during this period.

Firearms are not allowed in the country, in principle, with the exception of hunting. To obtain a license, a person must Go through the 12 steps. Process – A laborious and expensive process that few people undertake.

This includes taking a gun safety class, passing a written exam and having a doctor sign off on the gun buyer’s physical and mental health. Gun buyers must undergo an extensive background check and police inspection of gun safes and ammunition lockers used to store firearms.

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