Two people, including a 12-year-old girl, were killed and 16 other children hurt in a stabbing spree in Japan on Tuesday — a rare act of public violence in a country considered one of the safest in the world.
The attack took place near a park in the city of Kawasaki, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Tokyo, authorities said.
Kawasaki Police said a total of 19 people were stabbed, including the two victims who died. Police said the girl killed was named Hanako Kuribayashi and a male victim was called Satoshi Oyama, a 39-year-old government employee.
The suspected attacker also died from a “self-inflicted wound,” Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. Police officers previously told NHK that the man, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, had stabbed himself in the neck.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the attack was “heartbreaking.”
“We must keep our children safe at all costs,” Abe told reporters. “I’ve instructed the related ministers to take immediate action to ensure the children’s safety in going to and leaving school.”
NHK reported earlier Tuesday that three people — including an elementary school student — were in critical condition. It’s unclear if the girl who died was among them.
Japan is considered one of the world’s safest developed countries. It boasts one of the world’s lowest homicide rates, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.
Several residents in the area said they were shocked that such an attack could take place in what is usually a quiet town.
Kosuzu Sunayama, 26, who lives near to where the stabbings took place, said she could hear the screams from her 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. “My heart is aching.”
Mass stabbings are extremely rare in Japan. In 2016, 19 people were killed in a stabbing spree at a care home for disabled people — the deadliest mass killing in Japan since the end of World War II.
Japan also strictly regulates weapons, and it’s illegal for people to carry a pocket knife, craft knife, hunting knife or box cutter in public, according to the US State Department.
The Tuesday incident took place during US President Donald Trump’s visit to the country. Speaking aboard a Japanese helicopter carrier, Trump said the American people grieved for the victims’ families.