Man dressed as Joker wounds 17 people on Tokyo train and starts fire

FILE – Commuters move along a crowded train station platform in Tokyo on Friday, October 8, 2021. (AP Photo / Kiichiro Sato)

TOKYO (AP) – A man dressed in Batman’s Joker costume waving a knife at a Tokyo commuter train on Sunday stabbed several passengers before starting a fire that caused people to flee and jumped from windows, police and witnesses said .

Tokyo Fire Brigade said 17 passengers were injured, three of them seriously. Not all of them were stabbed and most of the other injuries were not serious, the agency said.

The attacker, identified as a 24-year-old man, was arrested on the spot and was investigated on suspicion of attempted murder, says NHK. His motive was not immediately known.

Nippon Television reported that the suspect told police he wanted to kill and get a death sentence and that he used a previous case of train stabbing as an example.

Witnesses told police the attacker was wearing a bright outfit – a green shirt, a blue suit and a purple coat – like the Joker in Batman comics or someone going to a Halloween event, according to media reports.

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

Television footage showed a number of firefighters, police and paramedics rescuing the passengers, many of whom fled through train windows. In a video, passengers ran from another car with flames.

NHK said the suspect, after stabbing passengers, poured a liquid resembling oil from a plastic bottle and set fire to it, partially burning seats.

Shunsuke Kimura, who filmed the video, told NHK that he saw passengers desperately running, and while trying to figure out what was happening, he heard an explosive sound and saw smoke hovering. He also jumped from a window but fell on the platform and hurt his shoulder.

“The train doors were closed and we had no idea what was happening and we jumped out the windows,” Kimura said. “It was horrible.”

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

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

While shootings are rare in Japan, the country has had a number of high-profile stabbings in recent years.

In 2019, a man with two knives attacked a group of schoolgirls waiting at a bus stop just outside Tokyo, killing two people and wounding 17 before killing himself. In 2018, a man killed a passenger and injured two others in a knife attack on a train. In 2016, a former employee of a disability home killed 19 people and injured more than 20.

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