Japan knife attack leaves 19 dead

Nineteen residents have been killed in a knife attack at a care centre for people with mental disabilities in Japan.

Such attacks are extremely rare in Japan – the incident in Sagamihara, west of Tokyo, is the worst mass killing in decades.

Police have arrested a former employee, who went to a nearby police station and allegedly admitted to the attack.

He is reported to have said he wanted people with disabilities to disappear.
The 26-year-old was named in local media as Satoshi Uematsu.

Local police have said the suspect sent a handwritten letter to politicians in February in which he threatened to kill hundreds of disabled people. He was detained for almost two weeks before being released.

Staff at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en facility, in a suburban area about 50km (31 miles) from Tokyo, called police at 02:30 local time (17:30 GMT) to report a man with a knife inside the building.

Local media reports say the suspect broke a window to get inside and then began stabbing people.

The victims were aged between 19 and 70, the Kyodo news agency, said citing the Sagamihara City Fire Department. Another 25 people were injured, 20 seriously. Both men and women were reported to be among the dead.

It appears that the attacker then left the facility himself, and drove to the Tsukui police station where he turned himself in.

Pictures have emerged of what is reported to be the steering wheel of his car, stained with blood. Broadcaster NHK said he had been carrying a bag of knives stained with blood.

The facility is set in extensive grounds It has separate living quarters for men and women and had up to 160 residents at the time of the attack, according to local officials. Eight staff members were on duty at the time.

Officials have ruled out any link to terrorism.

Mass killings are rare in Japan, which has extremely strict gun control laws.
In 2008, a man drove a truck into a packed shopping district at Akihabara in Tokyo, before climbing out and randomly stabbing people. Seven people died.

That attack occurred on the same date that a man with a history of mental illness stabbed eight children to death at an Osaka primary school in 2001.

Credit: BBC