TOKYO - Screaming as he randomly stabbed shoppers with a hunting knife, a 25-year-old man killed seven people and injured 11 others yesterday in a Tokyo retail district.
Tomohiro Kato, 25, drove a white, two-ton rental truck into a crowd of pedestrians, running over at least three people and then emerging from the truck with a large knife, according to police officers and witnesses.
Indiscriminately slashing and stabbing as he went, the assailant then ran and walked through the center of the Akihabara neighborhood, where thousands of young men from Japan and around the world gather for electronic gadgets and comic books, computer games and fellowship.
"I am tired of life," police said Kato told them later. "I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn't matter who they were. I came alone."
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to violent crime. Strict gun-control laws make it difficult for most Japanese to own handguns.
But this year, there have already been two stabbing sprees in crowded shopping districts, injuring a total of 10 people and killing one. Yesterday's rampage occurred on the seventh anniversary of an infamous stabbing incident near Osaka, where a man killed eight children and injured 15 others. He was later executed.
Akihabara, a neon-lighted temple for high-tech consumerism and for magazines and comics that cater to adolescent fantasies, looked liked a war zone just after the attack, with puddles of blood and random shoes on the pavement.
As always on Sundays, the main street in Akihabara was closed to traffic. When the rental truck barreled into the street, the area was crowded with pedestrians. Kato quickly got out of the truck with the knife and headed directly for one of the people he had run over, witnesses told reporters.
Kato "jumped on top of a man he had hit with his vehicle and stabbed him with a knife many times," one man told the Kyodo news agency.
Six of the seven killed were men, police said. They ranged in age from 19 to 74, but most were under 35. A 21-year-old woman was also killed.
Kato, wearing a white jacket and a black T-shirt, screamed and grunted as he stabbed people, according to witnesses.
At the end of the rampage, Kato was on a back street where he stabbed two more people. A policeman confronted him there with a nightstick and they fenced with their respective weapons, according to NHK. When the policeman pulled out his pistol and said he would shoot, the national broadcaster NHK reported, Kato dropped the knife and was tackled by police.