Toyko driver arrested after 'deliberately crashing' into New Year revellers

Larry Hoffman
January 2, 2019

The street had been closed to traffic at the time because large crowds were expected in the area for New Year's Eve celebrations.

A large tank filled with kerosene was found in the auto, police said.

The suspect, 21, Kazuhiro Kusakabe, was arrested and being questioned, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said on customary condition of anonymity.

In a statement, the DFA said there was no Filipino among 9 persons who sustained minor to serious injuries in the attack.

NHK TV footage showed a small van with the entire front end smashed and officers and ambulance workers rushing to the scene.

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 eyewitness told local media that he saw "people collapsed one after another and being helped". A 19-year-old university student remains unconscious after being hit by the minicar shortly after midnight on the well-known shopping street in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, which is normally packed with young shoppers and foreign tourists during daylight hours.

Kusakabe drove around 140 meters the wrong way on the one-way street, hitting eight men aged between 19 to 51, the police said.

People of Syrian and Afghan origin were among those injured, a police spokesman said. As of 5 a.m. local time, most people had dispersed from the area, Kyodo reported.

He then fled on foot, but police caught him at a local park soon after, local media said.

A man was arrested, with a police spokesman telling AFP news agency he had an "intent to murder". There is no major fireworks display and no central point where revelers gather to see in the year.

Instead, Japanese people tend to see in the New Year with families and go to the shrine to pray for good fortune in the year to come.

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