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Police detain man accused of killing four with knife and gun in Japan’s Nagano prefecture


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TOKYO — Police detained an armed and masked man who had barricaded himself in a building after allegedly killing a woman and two police officers in the central Japanese prefecture of Nagano on Thursday, according to state broadcaster NHK.

The first three victims died at a hospital. A fourth person injured in the attack, an elderly woman, was pronounced dead after police apprehended the attacker, according to local media.

The gunman, who was wearing camouflage clothing, a mask and sunglasses, stabbed the woman and then opened fire with what appeared to be a hunting rifle when police arrived, reports said.

Police said the attacker barricaded himself in a building said to be the home of the chairman of the city council. Television images showed police in bulletproof vests near the building with an ambulance nearby.

A woman — reportedly the mother of the suspect — escaped from the building where the attacker was holed up, and was placed under police protection, according to local media reports, which also indicated that another woman remained in the building. The suspect is believed to be the son of the city council chairman, according to NHK, which cited police reports.

Gun crimes are extremely rare in Japan, where firearms are strictly regulated. The fatal shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at a campaign event last year with a homemade weapon shocked the country.

What are Japan’s gun laws? Abe killing shocks nation with few shootings.

Anyone trying to get a gun in Japan needs to apply for a permit, attend a class on gun safety and laws, and pass a written test. There is a full-day training course on safe shooting techniques.

There are multiple rounds of checks and verification on the gun owner’s background and health, including information about their family, mental health, personal debt and criminal record. The gun must be registered with and inspected by police.

Last year, nine shootings, causing four deaths and two injuries, were recorded in the country. Six of the shootings involved the yakuza criminal network, according to the National Police Agency.

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