One school girl is dead and 17 others are injured after a mass stabbing near Tokyo on Tuesday morning.
A man wielding two knives slashed a group of commuters, mostly primary school girls, at a crowded bus stop during rush hour in Kawasaki, Japan.
The wounded were rushed to nearby hospitals, and one girl has been confirmed dead, according to local station NHK.
Police have confirmed the suspect, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, has died after slashing himself in the neck.
A bus driver who witnessed the incident told officials the perpetrator had been holding a knife in each hand when he walked over to the bus stop and began slashing children.
One witness told the New York Times the knifeman was shouting ‘I will kill you.’
The young children are believed to be first-grade students aged six to seven who were boarding a school bus when the man unleashed his attack.
One school girl is dead and 17 others are injured after a mass stabbing near Tokyo on Tuesday morning
At least three victims, including a child, are thought to be gravely injured
‘I saw a man holding a knife…I couldn’t see clearly, but he apparently stabbed himself in the neck,’ one eyewitness told NHK.
Another told NHK he saw the suspect trying to force his way onto a bus.
Footage broadcast on local TV stations showed multiple police cars, ambulances and fire engines at the scene. Emergency medical tents were put up to treat the wounded.
‘We received an emergency call at 7.44 am, which said four elementary schoolchildren were stabbed,’ a fire department spokesman said.
One witness told NHK he saw the suspect trying to force his way onto a bus.
‘I heard the sound of lots of ambulances and I saw a man lying near a bus stop bleeding,’ a male eyewitness, who was not identified, told NHK.
Officers were called to a stabbing at a bus stop in the city, about nine miles (14 kilometers) southwest of downtown Tokyo
A suspect is thought to have stabbed himself and later died, according to reports
‘There is another bus stop near the elementary school and I also saw elementary schoolchildren lying on the ground… It’s a quiet neighbourhood, it’s scary to see this kind of thing happen,’ he added.
‘It is a very harrowing incident,’ government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters, referring all further questions on the attack to police.
Television footage showed emergency workers giving first aid to people inside an orange tent set up on the street, and police and other officials carrying the wounded to ambulances.
The rampage is a rare attack in a country with one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the developed world and there was no immediate detail on the motive of the knifeman.
Although Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it has had a series of high-profile killings, including in 2016 when a former employee at a home for the disabled was accused of going on a stabbing spree that killed 19 and wounded more than 20 others.
In 2008, seven people were killed by a man who slammed a truck into a crowd of people in central Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district and then stabbed passers-by.
In 2001, a man killed eight children and wounded 13 others in a knife attack at an elementary school in the city of Osaka. The incident shocked Japan and led to increased security at schools.
The attack comes as Japan hosts US President Donald Trump on a state visit, which wraps up Tuesday with the US leader visiting an American military base outside of Tokyo.
With such a low crime rate, visitors to Japan are often surprised to see very young children travelling unaccompanied to school.
However, in 2018, a man was arrested in central Japan after stabbing one person to death and injuring two others aboard a bullet train, an attack that prompted new security measures on the famed rail service.
And in 2016, a man stabbed 19 people to death in a disability centre south of Tokyo in what he described as a mission to rid the world of people with mental illness.
More to come.