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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"A man armed with a kitchen knife climbed in through a veranda and ran amok"
 real 56k

Friday, 8 June, 2001, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Japan shock at school killings
Parents take children home after school attack
Anguished parents have been arriving at the school
Police in Japan have been questioning a knife-wielding killer who went on the rampage in a primary school, leaving at least eight pupils dead and 15 injured, some of them seriously.

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

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

Reports say the 37-year-old attacker was mentally disturbed. He told police he had attempted suicide several times and wanted to be executed.

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

It is the worst mass killing in Japan since a deadly nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway killed 12 people in 1995.


I was fed up with everything. I want to be put to death

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

Two of the children were killed immediately. The others died later in hospital. They were all aged between six and eight.

At least one boy and one teacher underwent emergency surgery and were said to be critically ill.

Japan map
Pupils said the attacker climbed into a classroom, slashing children and teachers before moving on to another.

"He came straight to us and stabbed the teacher [who] did not say anything and collapsed," one of the pupils said.

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

Fed up

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

Police have asked for the suspect not to be named because of his history of mental illness.

"I was fed up with everything," police quoted him as saying. "I want to be put to death."

The attacker 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 because he was under treatment for a mental condition.

Murder charges are now being prepared against him.

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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