At least one young girl has been confirmed dead and several other people have been wounded after a knife-wielding man went on a stabbing spree at a crowded bus stop in a city near Japan‘s capital, local media have cited police as saying.
The Kawasaki City fire department put the number of wounded at 19, including three with severe injuries. Schoolchildren as young as six are understood to be among the wounded.
Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from the scene, said the attack took place near a train station and a bus stop at a time when the area was likely to be very busy with commuters.
“Children [at the bus stop] were waiting to go to school. It seems that that is where most of the people were attacked – most of them, it seems, were schoolchildren waiting to get on a bus to go to a private Catholic school in the area,” Hay said.
“We are told that at that time of the day, the children lining up for that particular bus were for the most part Grade One students – children between six and seven years old,” he added.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced “strong anger” over the attack.
“It is a very harrowing case,” Abe said in a televised statement. “I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims and hope the injured recover quickly.
The suspect, a man probably in his 40s or 50s, was unconscious when he was detained after stabbing himself in the neck, NHK said.
The man was said to have begun slashing at people as they waited at the bus stop and then on the bus, it said.
“I heard screaming, then I saw a man standing with a knife in each hand,” NHK quoted an unidentified witness as saying. “Then he crumbled to the ground.”
Two knives were found at the scene, NHK said.
“I heard the sound of lots of ambulances and I saw a man lying near a bus stop bleeding,” an eyewitness, who was not identified, told NHK.
“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.
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.