, TOKYO, Dec 17 – An unemployed man armed with a kitchen knife went on a rampage on two packed buses on Friday in Japan leaving 14 people wounded, mostly teenage school children, before passengers overpowered him.
Police said they had arrested 27-year-old Yuta Saito on charges of attempted murder after the morning rush hour attacks outside Toride railway station, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Tokyo.
"The suspect got onto the buses and wielded a knife and slashed passengers," said a local police spokesman after the bloody attack with what media reports said was a 25-centimetre (10-inch) kitchen knife.
Passengers subdued the attacker, who also sustained some injuries.
"I wanted to end my life," he was later quoted as saying by broadcaster NHK.
The knife attack in a country where violent crime is rare evoked memories of a far bloodier stabbing spree in 2008 when a man killed seven people in Tokyo, running over three with a truck and stabbing four to death.
Friday morning’s attacks left 14 people wounded, none with life-threatening injuries. Among the victims were eight high school students, four junior high school students and two women aged 49 and 59, reports said.
The man slashed at least five of his victims, a local fire department official said, while the rest were hurt when he punched them or as they stampeded to flee the attack.
"People screamed: ‘Run. A man with a knife is getting in.’ I was scared, so scared," said one woman, speaking on television.
Another woman said: "There was an uproar. High school students were running out and I saw a schoolboy bleeding from his forehead."
The driver of the first bus that was attacked told NHK: "There were some 50 passengers on the bus when the man entered.
"First, I thought it was a fight among students. But then I heard a scream and I thought this isn’t normal. I saw the man wielding a knife, and I quickly opened the door to let the students flee. That’s all I could do."
The attacks stunned the local community in Ibaraki prefecture.
"It’s an unforgivable act," said Kenji Takezawa, deputy principal of Edogawa Gakuen school, some of whose students were among the victims.
"We gathered our students in our hall and told them to stay calm," he said, adding that all afternoon classes were cancelled.
The National Police Agency said this week that the number of criminal cases detected by police in 2010 looks set to total below 1.6 million for the first time in 23 years, Kyodo News reported.
Murders, attempted murders and conspiracy to murder are on track to hit a new post-war low this year, with 988 cases reported by the end of November, down 2.8 percent from last year, the report said.