Tokyo: Man deliberately drives van into NYE crowds | News | DW | 01.01.2019
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Tokyo: Man deliberately drives van into NYE crowds

A man with an "intent to murder" has driven a minivan into a crowd of people in Tokyo. It happened on a popular street in the Harajuku district.

At least nine people were injured when a man drove a minivan into a crowd of revelers on a famous Tokyo street on Tuesday.

Crowds had gathered in Takeshita Dori, a popular street in the fashionable Harajuku district, to ring in the new year when the man struck just after midnight. Police said the man had an "intent to murder."

One of the injured, a male university student in his teens, was in a critical condition, Kyodo News agency reported, citing police officials.

"I saw some guys collapsed on the street," one witness told national broadcaster NHK. "As I walked closer toward the scene, many more people had fallen to the ground. By the time I reached the exact place, paramedics were already there helping people."

NHK aired video of a small van with the entire front end smashed while emergency workers rushed to the scene. 

Suspect later detained

Police immediately cordoned off the street and the driver was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

NHK identified the man as Kazuhiro Kusakabe, a 21-year-old from Osaka, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

The broadcaster reported that the perpetrator had told police that he was acting in "retribution for the death penalty" without giving more precise details.

Takeshita Dori, which is often tightly packed with fashionistas and international tourists, was closed to traffic for New Year's Eve at the time of the incident.

Unlike other world capitals, New Year is generally a muted affair in Tokyo with no fireworks.

mm,aw/amp (AFP, AP)

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