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7 die in Tokyo stabbing frenzy / Suspect posted messages on Net warning of Akihabara attack

Seven people were killed and 10 injured by a 25-year-old man who went on a stabbing spree after knocking down pedestrians with a rental truck at a crossing in Tokyo's Akihabara district Sunday afternoon, police said.

The attacker--Tomohiro Kato, a temporary worker from Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture--was arrested by police officers who rushed to the scene after receiving a report of the indiscriminate rampage, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

About seven hours before the deadly rampage, Kato posted a message on a mobile phone Web site that said, "I'm going to kill people in Akihabara."

"I visited Akihabara to kill whoever I could," an MPD investigator quoted Kato as saying after his arrest.

The MPD set up a task force to investigate the circumstances of the case and the motives of the suspect. As six men and one woman have been pronounced dead, the MPD is treating Sunday's stabbing spree as an indiscriminate murder case.

Fatally wounded in the attack were Kazuhiro Koiwa, 47, unemployed, of Itabashi Ward, Tokyo; Katsuhiko Nakamura, 74, of Suginami Ward, Tokyo; Mai Muto, 21, of Kita Ward, Tokyo, a fourth-year student at Tokyo University of the Arts; Kazunori Fujino, 19, of Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, a second-year student at Tokyo Denki University; Naoki Miyamoto, 31, of Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, a company employee; Takahiro Kawaguchi, 19, a second-year student at Tokyo University of Information Sciences; and Mitsuru Matsui, 33, of Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, a licensed cook.

The incident took place along a street closed to traffic for the benefit of shoppers in the Akihabara electronics quarter at around 12:35 p.m. After zigzagging along the street, Kato drove the rental truck into the intersection near JR Akihabara Station in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Kato hit and knocked down three people with his truck, then stopped at the side of the road several meters away from the crossing, according to MPD officials.

After exiting the vehicle, the suspect drew a double-edged survival knife and went back to the intersection. At the intersection, he attacked the people he had hit with his vehicle and slashed other pedestrians.

About five minutes later, police officers from Manseibashi Police Station restrained him in a back alley about 50 meters away from the crossing, according to the MPD.

"I decided [to commit murder] two or three days ago. I had visited Akihabara a couple of times to buy a computer, so I knew there were lots of people there, and that street was closed for pedestrian use [on Sundays]," Kato was quoted by the MPD as saying.

"I got sick of the world. I'm tired of living," he told the police.

The indiscriminate killings were preceded by 30 messages posted by Kato on a mobile phone Web site Sunday. His first message, posted at 5:21 a.m., stated his intent to kill. It was titled "I'm going to kill people in Akihabara," and said he would crash into a crowd of people with a car, adding he would "use a knife if my car can't be used [after plowing into the crowd]."

Another of his messages read, "It's a real pity if I get caught in the act [of killing people]." Another message said, "I'm used to acting like a good guy."

A message posted at 6:31 a.m. read, "It's time to go."

Kato continued to post messages on the Web site while driving on the expressway. One of the messages he posted while driving read, "There's a terrible traffic jam." The final message, posted at 12:10 a.m., read,"It's time!"

Kato told the investigative task force that he had posted these messages, but declined to say why he had done so, according to the MPD.

(Jun. 10, 2008)
AP News
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