At least 19 dead in Japan’s worst killing in recent years

At least 19 people were killed and 25 others wounded in a knife rampage at a facility for the mentally disabled near Tokyo early Tuesday, Japanese authorities said.

Police responded to a call at around 2:30 am local time (1730 GMT Monday) from an employee saying a knife-wielding man broke into the facility in the city of Sagamihara in Kanagawa prefecture and went on a stabbing spree, Kyodo News agency reported. 20 of the victims were seriously injured.

The man, named as Satoshi Uematsu by local police, afterwards drove himself to the nearby police station at 3 am and admitted to the attack, the report said.

"I did it. It's better that the handicapped disappear," the man reportedly told police.

The 26-year-old had been employed at the care facility known as Tsukui Yamayuri En until February of this year, but was fired after he told other employees he wanted to kill the inhabitants, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported, citing unnamed city officials in Sagamihara.

He was later admitted to a mental hospital until early March, where he tested positive for marijuana.

As of the end of April, a total of 149 people between the ages of 19 and 75 were living at the facility in a quiet residential area near Mount Takao, a popular tourist destination about 50 kilometers from the capital.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that his government will do its utmost to get to the bottom of the tragic incident, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the killing as "highly distressing."

At a news conference, the local prefecture governor Yuji Kuroiwa expressed regret to the victims.

The attack is the worst mass killing in recent years in Japan. Mass murders are rare in the country, where tight gun control laws exist.

In 1995, 13 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured in the sarin gas attack staged by the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, the worst-ever act of domestic terrorism on Japanese soil.

In 2008, 16 people died in an arson attack at a video shop in the western city of Osaka after an unemployed man set the store on fire.

Last update: Tue, 26/07/2016 - 11:28
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