Three people, including two police officers, were killed on Thursday in Nagano, central Japan, and a suspect with a rifle and knife was holed up inside a building, police said.
NHK public television said one person then fled the building and that other people may still be inside.
A witness told NHK that a woman fell while being chased by the suspect, who then stabbed her with a knife and shot two police officers as they arrived at the scene in a patrol car in Nakano Town, NHK. Nagano prefecture.
The witness said she asked the suspect why he attacked her, and he replied that he wanted to kill her, NHK said.
The three victims were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were later pronounced dead, police said. A fourth person who was injured could not be rescued because she was close to the suspect, Kyodo News agency said.
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Video on NHK showed police wearing bulletproof vests and carrying shields, with an ambulance nearby. The area is in a quiet agricultural neighborhood.
Police described the suspect as a man wearing camouflage clothing, a hat, a mask and sunglasses, Kyodo News said. Police have designated the area within a 300-metre (330 yd) radius of the site as a no-go zone, and city authorities have urged people in the neighborhood to stay at home.
No other details, including the suspect and motive, were immediately known.
Violent crimes are rare in Japan. It has strict gun control laws and only a handful of gun-related crimes each year. But there have been a few high-profile cases in recent years involving random subway stabbings and arson attacks, and there’s growing concern about guns and homemade explosives.