At least 18 people, including 16 young children, were stabbed by a man brandishing a knife at a crowded bus stop on the outskirts of Tokyo during Tuesday’s morning rush hour.
Officials said an 11-year-old girl and a man in his 30s had been killed in the attack, and several victims sustained serious injuries. Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, quoting police, said the suspect had died after slashing himself in the neck. His identity and motives remain unknown.
The victims had reportedly been waiting in line at a bus stop in Kawasaki City when the suspect, described by NHK as a man in his 40s or 50s, attacked the group. An eyewitness told The New York Times that he heard the suspect shouting “I’m going to kill you!” in Japanese. Two knives were reportedly recovered at the scene.
According to NHK, the children who were attacked were all girls, believed to be aged between six and 12 ― all of them students at Caritas, a local Catholic school.
Local police confirmed the death of Grade 6 student Hanako Kuribayashi, AP reported. The identify of the adult victim remains unknown.
Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and mass killings are almost unheard of. There have, however, been a number of high-profile knife attacks over the past two decades.
In 2016, a 26-year-old former employee at a home for people with disabilities went on a stabbing spree at the facility, killing 19 and wounding 25. The attack was characterized as the worst mass killing in the country since the Second World War.
In 2001, a knife-wielding man stabbed and killed eight children at an elementary school in the city of Osaka. The massacre shocked Japan, the AP noted and led to tighter security in schools across the country.
Tuesday marks the last day of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan. He spent the morning addressing U.S. troops alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Reacting to news of the knife attack, Trump, speaking on board a Japanese aircraft carrier, said “all Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families.”
Abe later expressed outrage at the killings and vowed to “take all possible measures to protect the safety of children.”