Tokyo attack: Man drives car into New Year's Eve crowds with 'intention to kill'
02 January, 2019, 16:31
In a rare instance of rampage in Japan, a 21-year-old man in a rented auto deliberately ploughed into pedestrians on a famous Tokyo street, which was closed to vehicles for the New Year, injuring nine people.
Takeshita Street, regarded as the epicentre of Tokyo's eccentric youth culture, had been closed to all vehicles from 10pm on Monday to 5am yesterday as heavy foot traffic was expected to and from the nearby Meiji Jingu, a major shrine where Japanese go to pray for good luck in the New Year.
At least nine people were injured, one critically, CNN reported.
NHK TV footage showed a small van with the entire front end smashed and officers and ambulance workers rushing to the scene.
Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) reported that Kusakabe told police he was acting in "retribution for the death penalty" without giving more precise details.
Kusakabe told police he drove from Osaka with the intent of killing pedestrians he hit. Another witness, who runs a clothing shop in the area, said: "I am shocked that something like this happened on Takeshita Street".
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Police said a large tank filled with kerosene was found in the auto.
One witness told NHK it was a "ghastly scene".
Kusakabe drove around 140 meters the wrong way on the one-way street, hitting eight men aged between 19 to 51, the police said.
Police said one teenage boy had been taken to the hospital after the attack, where he is undergoing an operation.
Police said the auto barreled down a crowded street roughly 10 minutes after midnight.
There was no information so far to suggest that foreign tourists were among the injured, the police spokesman said. Media also reported that the driver eluded arrest for around 20 minutes before police caught him. It also attracts worldwide tourists in large numbers. The shrine is a popular New Year's Eve destination.
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It has been reported that the man arrested, aged in his mid-20s, tested positive for amphetamine and cocaine. Check-in for some flights remained suspended as of 6.30pm while police investigated the incident.
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