Man with knife stabs at least 17 on Tokyo train; starts fire

At least 17 passengers were injured, including one seriously, in the attack on commuters on Halloween.

Commuters pack into a train car in Tokyo earlier this month [File: Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo]

A man dressed in Batman’s Joker costume attacked passengers on a Tokyo train line on Sunday, injuring 17 people as many party-goers headed into the city centre for Halloween gatherings.

NHK public television reported at least 17 passengers were wounded, including one seriously. NHK said the suspect, 24, after stabbing passengers, poured a liquid resembling oil and set a fire.

“I thought it was a Halloween stunt,” one witness told the Yomiuri newspaper, recalling the moment he saw other passengers running in a panic towards his train car. “Then, I saw a man walking this way, slowly waving a long knife.”

There was blood on the weapon, he said.

The attacker was arrested on the spot and was being investigated on suspicion of attempted murder. His motive was not immediately known. A man believed to be in his 60s was unconscious and in critical condition after being stabbed.

Tokyo police officials said the attack happened inside the Keio train near the Kokuryo station.

Television footage showed a number of firefighters, police officials and paramedics rescuing the passengers, many of whom escaped through train windows. In one video, passengers were running from another car, where flames were gushing.

‘Wanted to kill people’

A video on Twitter showed a bespectacled man dressed in a purple suit and bright green shirt, as worn by the Joker, seated in an empty train puffing on a cigarette, his legs crossed and looking calm. He can be seen through the window being surrounded by law enforcement in a subsequent clip.

Shunsuke Kimura, who filmed one video, told NHK he saw passengers desperately running and while he was trying to figure out what happened, he heard an explosive noise and saw smoke wafting.

Local media reported later the suspect told authorities he “wanted to kill people so he could be sentenced to death”.

The attack was the second involving a knife on a Tokyo train in two months.

In August, the day before the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony, a 36-year-old man stabbed 10 passengers on a commuter train in Tokyo in a random burst of violence. The suspect later told police that he wanted to attack women who looked happy.

A police officer walks into the Kokuryo station of the Keio Line train where a knife, arson and acid attack incident occurred on a train in Tokyo on Sunday [Issei Kato/Reuters]
Source: News Agencies