19 people killed in knife attack in Japan


At least 19 people have been killed and about 20 wounded in a knife attack at a centre for handicapped people near Tokyo - Japan's worst mass killing in generations.

Police said they responded to a call at about 2.30am local time on Tuesday from an employee saying something horrible was happening at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en (Tsukui Lily Garden) centre in the city of Sagamihara, just west of the capital.

A man turned himself in at a police station in Sagamihara about two hours later. Police said he left the knife in his car when he entered the station. He has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and trespassing.

Police investigators work at the crime scene
(Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Local government officials identified the suspect as Satoshi Uematsu. Japan's national broadcaster NHK said he was 26 and another broadcaster, NTV, said he was upset because he had been sacked.

A Kanagawa district official told a news conference that Uematsu entered the building at about 2.10am by breaking a window on the first floor of a residential building at the centre.

Shinya Sakuma, head of the local authority's health and welfare division, said Uematsu had worked at the centre until February.

Police said there were several casualties but did not provide any numbers but the Sagamihara City fire brigade said 19 people died in the attack and that figure was confirmed by doctors at the scene.

Police investigators cover the entrance of the facility
(Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Mass killings are relatively rare in Japan, which has extremely strict gun control laws. In 2008, seven people were killed by a man who drove a lorry into a crowd of people in central Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district, then stabbed passers-by.

Fourteen were injured in 2010 by an unemployed man who stabbed and beat up passengers on two public buses outside a railway station in Ibaraki district, about 25 miles north east of Tokyo.