Two people were killed, one of them a 12-year-old girl, in a knife attack near a park in the city of Kawasaki, Japan on Tuesday. 15 school children were also injured.
All 17 victims were taken to nearby hospitals, though a spokesperson at the Nippon Medical School Musashikosugi Hospital confirmed the 12-year-old girl and a 39-year-old man died. The attacker, a man authorities believe to be in his 40s or 50s, also died of a self-inflicted wound.
The act of violence has shocked the community and the world, as Japan is thought to be one of the safest places in the world. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, called the violence “heartbreaking”.
“We must keep our children safe at all costs,” Abe said in a press conference. “I’ve instructed the related ministers to take immediate action to ensure the children’s safety in going to and leaving school.”
Japan has one of the world’s lowest homicide rates, as per data collected by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Attacks such as the stabbing spree on Tuesday, are considered extremely rare, especially since it is illegal to carry pocket knives, hunting knives, box cutters, or craft knives in public.
Kosuzu Sunayama, 26, is a resident of the area where the stabbings took place. She told CNN that she could hear screaming while she was at home.
“It’s not the kind of place to have such a incident. Its not the kind of place to have such a horrible news,” Sunayama said to CNN. “My heart is aching.”