A rare shooting and stabbing attack in Japan left three dead including two police officers, according to local police.
Police received a call in the late afternoon with reports that a “man stabbed a woman,” a Nakano City police official told CNN.
When officers rushed to the scene, the man fired something resembling a hunting rifle, striking four people, before fleeing the scene and barricading himself in a building, he added.
The woman was taken to hospital where she was subsequently pronounced dead.
NHK later reported that two police officers also died from their injuries and that one other person was injured.
The suspect was wearing a camouflage hat, top and bottoms with sunglasses and a mask, according to NHK.
Nakano City urged citizens to stay indoors in a statement posted onto social media Thursday.
The Nakano city police spokesman told CNN that authorities designated an “evacuation zone” with a radius of 300 meters around the incident scene.
The police spokesman added that its forces are investigating reports a gunshot-like sound was heard near the scene hours after the attack.
Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan, a country of 125 million people. It has one of the lowest rates of gun crimes in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws.
However, Japan was rocked by a shooting last year that reverberated around the world.
Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot dead during a campaign speech in Nara in July.
His murder sent shock waves through Japan and the international community, and also sparked questions about whether enough security was in place to protect him despite Japan’s track record for being a safe place.
Getting hold of a firearm in Japan is extremely difficult and the suspect in Abe’s shooting used a homemade weapon.
In 2022, nine incidents involving firearms took place in Japan including Abe’s assassination, one down from the previous year, according to the National Police Agency.
Of the nine incidents, six are believed to have been committed by gangs and other groups. In total, four people were killed and two injured in the nine incidents.