TOKYO (AP) – A man dressed in a Batman Joker costume and waving a knife on a Tokyo train on Sunday stabbed several passengers before starting a fire, causing people to flee and jump out of windows, police and witnesses said.
The Tokyo Fire Department said 17 passengers were injured, three of them seriously. Not all were stabbed, and most of the other injuries were not serious, the agency said.
The attacker, identified as a 24-year-old, was arrested on the spot and is being investigated on suspicion of attempted murder, NHK reported. His motive was not immediately known.
Nippon Television reported that the suspect told police he wanted to kill and receive the death penalty, and that he used a previous case with a knife on a train as a case.
Witnesses told police the attacker was dressed in a bright suit – a green shirt, a blue suit and a purple coat – like the Joker in the Batman comics or someone who went to a Halloween event, media reported.
Tokyo police said the attack took place on a Keio train near Kokuryo station.
Television footage showed many firefighters, police officers and rescuers rescuing passengers, many of whom escaped through the window fibers. In one video, passengers were fleeing another car where the fire was vomiting.
NHK said the suspect, after stabbing passengers, poured oil-like liquid from a plastic bottle and set it on fire, partially burning the seats.
Shunsuke Kimura, who recorded the video, told NHK he saw passengers running desperately, and while trying to figure out what happened, he heard an explosive noise and saw smoke billowing. He also jumped out of the window, but fell to the platform and injured his shoulder.
“The train door was closed and we had no idea what was going on, and we jumped out the windows,” Kimura said. “It was horrible.”
The knife attack on a train in Tokyo was the second in two months.
In August, the day before the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, a 36-year-old man stabbed 10 passengers on a city train in Tokyo in a random outbreak of violence. The suspect later told police he wanted to attack women who looked happy.
While shooting deaths are rare in Japan, the country has had a series of high-profile knife killings in recent years.
In 2019, a man carrying two knives attacked a group of schoolgirls waiting at a bus stop just before Tokyo, killing two people and injuring 17 before killing himself. In 2018, a man in a bullet attack on a train with bullets killed a passenger and injured two others. In 2016, a former staff member at a home for the disabled killed 19 people and injured more than 20.