At least 18 people, including 16 children, were stabbed by a man brandishing a knife at a crowded bus stop on the outskirts of Tokyo during Tuesday morning rush hour.
Officials said an 11-year-old girl and a 39-year-old man had been killed in the attack, and several victims sustained serious injuries. Japan’s public broadcaster NHK identified the attacker as Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, and, quoting police, said he had died after slashing himself in the neck.
The victims had reportedly been waiting in line at a bus stop in Kawasaki City when Iwasaki allegedly attacked. An eyewitness told The New York Times that he heard him 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 6 and 12 ― all students at Caritas, a local Catholic school.
Local police confirmed the death of sixth-grader Hanako Kuribayashi, AP reported. The man who was killed was identified as Satoshi Oyama, father of one of the children at the bus stop and an official in the Foreign Ministry.
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 WWII.
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 President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan. He spent the morning addressing U.S. troops alongside Japan’s 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.”
This story has been updated with Abe’s statement and information on the victims.
Julian Shen-Berro contributed to this story.