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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"Two children were killed on the spot"
 real 56k

Friday, 8 June, 2001, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Pupils die in Japan knife massacre
Parents take children home after school attack
Anguished parents have been arriving at the school
A knifeman has killed at least eight pupils in a rampage at their school in western Japan.

Officials say more than 20 other pupils were hurt, along with several teachers. Some are seriously ill in hospital.


"He [the attacker] came straight to us and stabbed the teacher. He [the teacher] did not say anything and collapsed

Schoolgirl witness
There has been no word on a possible motive for the attack at an elementary school in Ikeda, a suburb of Osaka, about 500 km (310 miles) west of Tokyo.

Police say they have detained a man. Reports say he was mentally disturbed.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he was shocked at the "terrible incident" - one of several knife attacks in Japan recently.

Rampage

Police officials said the stabbings occurred shortly after classes began at the school, which caters for children up to the age of 12.

Fire department official Tetsuo Higashimoto said two of the children were killed immediately. The others died later in hospital. It is believed the children were aged six or seven.

Japan map
Media reports said the 37-year-old attacker climbed into a classroom, slashing children and teachers before moving on to another.

One schoolgirl described the attack on television.

"He [the attacker] came straight to us and stabbed the teacher. He [the teacher] did not say anything and collapsed," she said.

Police said he used a knife with a 15cm (six inch) blade. Two teachers wrestled him down before police arrived to arrest the attacker, who was also injured and taken to a local hospital.

Pupils run from school
Children fled from the school after the attack
The victims have been taken to local hospitals. At least one boy and one teacher were undergoing emergency surgery, and were said to be critically ill.

Anxious parents have been arriving at the school. The uninjured pupils have been led to safety on the school's playing fields.

'Disturbed'

The attacker had reportedly been high on medication. Public broadcaster NHK and other media said he had taken a large dose of tranquillisers and appeared incoherent when questioned by the police.

Japan stabbings
December 2000: family of four found stabbed in Tokyo
August 2000: 15 year-old stabs to death neighbours in Notsu, south-west Japan
March 2000: 17 year-old hijacks a bus in north-west Japan
February 2000: Fatal stabbing at Fukuoka junior high school, south-west Japan
December 1999: 7 year-old fatally stabbed in Kyoto
Reports said he had been arrested in March 1999, accused of allegedly putting tranquillisers into the tea of some teachers at a school where he used to work.

He was not prosecuted, apparently because he suffered from psychological problems, the Associated Press news agency quoted a police official as saying.

Murder charges are now being prepared against him.

The attack on a school is believed to be unprecedented in Japan.

But the BBC's Charles Scanlon says there has been growing concern in Japan at a series of extremely violent and apparently motiveless crimes. Many of the most highly publicised cases have been committed by youths in their late teens.

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See also:

08 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Violent crime stalks Japan's youth
08 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Japan school massacre
23 Mar 99 | Correspondents
Disorder in Japan's schools
17 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Teen bat rampage shocks Tokyo
21 Apr 99 | UK
Dunblane victims remembered
03 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Japan
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