Nine people have been injured after a man deliberately ploughed his car into crowds celebrating New Year’s Eve along a famous street in Tokyo, police and media said on Tuesday.
With an "intent to murder", a man identified as 21-year-old Kazuhiro Kusakabe drove a small vehicle into Takeshita Street in Tokyo’s fashion district of Harajuku at 10 minutes past midnight.
According to national broadcaster NHK, Kusakabe told police he was acting in "retribution for the death penalty" without giving more precise details.
NHK footage showed a small box vehicle with a smashed front and paramedics carrying people on stretchers into ambulances.
Local media said a container of kerosene was found inside the rental car.
The attacker, who reportedly drove the vehicle from the western region of Osaka, has told investigators that he planned to burn the vehicle, according to private network Fuji TV.
One witness told NHK it was a "ghastly scene".
"I saw some guys collapsed on the street. As I walked closer toward the scene, many more people had fallen on the ground. By the time I reached the exact place, paramedics were already there helping people," he said.
Another witness, who runs a clothing shop in the area, said: "I am shocked that something like this happened on Takeshita Street."
Police immediately cordoned off the street, which during the day is packed with tourists trying to get a taste of Japan’s extravagant youth and food culture.
One college student suffered serious injuries during the attack and was undergoing surgery, the police spokesman told AFP. Local media reported the student was in a coma.
Kusakabe was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.
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