A 50-year-old man carrying a knife in each hand attacked a group of schoolgirls waiting at a bus stop in a suburb of Tokyo Tuesday morning, killing two people before taking his own life.
The schoolgirls were lined up at a bus stop near Noborito Park in Kawasaki, in the southwest of Tokyo when the attacker approached them from behind, screaming, “I will kill you.”
One of those who died was an 11-year-old named Hanako Kuribayashi. The other was a 39-year-old man who was a father of one of the girls, according to local media reports.
Hospital officials said both victims had been slashed in the head, chest, and face.
The attack left 16 others injured, most of them girls aged between 6 and 12. Officials said three people sustained serious injuries, with the others suffering non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspect, whose motive remains a mystery, was seen running from the bus stop before cutting his own throat and collapsing in a pool of his own blood. He was brought to a hospital but died from his wounds.
Eyewitnesses describe a nightmare scene following the attack:
“I heard a scream, so I stopped and turned around to see what happened. It was not a normal tone of voice,” Yasuko Atsukata told AP. “The color of their white shirts turned red after they collapsed, then I understood they got stabbed.”
The attack has sent shockwaves through Japan, where violent crime is a rarity. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was concluding a four-day visit with President Trump Tuesday, said he would act fast to ensure the safety of schoolchildren.
“It was an extremely harrowing incident in which many small children were victimized, and I feel strong resentment,” Abe said. “I will take all possible measures to protect the safety of children.”
The U.S. president, who was greeting American troops as the news emerged, also sent his condolences.
“On behalf of the first lady and myself, I want to take a moment to send our prayers and sympathies to the victims of the stabbing attack this morning in Tokyo,” he said. “All Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families.”
Abe instructed education minister Masahiko Shibayama and National Public Safety Commission chair Junzo Yamamoto to immediately draw up urgent measures to protect children going to and coming home from school.
Violent crimes are rare in Japan, but there have been similar attacks in recent years. In 2016, a former employee entered a center for the disabled and fatally stabbed 19 people, the worst mass killing in Japan since World War 2.
Cover: Women pray after offering flowers near the scene where a man wielding a knife attacked commuters in Kawasaki, near Tokyo Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)