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At least 17 injured in knife attack and fire on Tokyo subway crowded with Halloween revelers

Train passengers scrambled to escape through windows after a knife-wielding man set a fire on the Tokyo subway on Oct. 31. (Video: siz33 via Storyful)
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A knife-wielding man rampaged through a Tokyo Metro train on Sunday, setting a fire and injuring at least 17 passengers as commuters headed into the city center for Halloween festivities, Japan’s NHK public television reported. Police have made an arrest.

Police said that the assailant wore a “character outfit” that could have resembled a Halloween costume or a comic book character, Kyodo News reported.

A 24-year-old man was arrested at the scene and was under investigation. He told police he wanted to kill at least two people to receive the death penalty, NHK reported.

At least one person, a man in his 70s, was stabbed and is in serious condition, according to Japanese media. It was not clear how many people were injured by the knife, the fire or the resulting chaos as passengers fled the scene. The express train on the Keio Line made an emergency stop so passengers could disembark.

Such attacks are relatively rare in Japan, but Sunday’s incident was the second knife assault on a train in recent months.

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In early August, just before the Closing Ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics, a man stabbed 10 passengers on a commuter train in Tokyo, Kyodo News reported at the time.

Yusuke Tsushima, 36, was charged with attempted murder in that attack. He told police that he “had been wanting to kill happy-looking women for the past six years. Anyone would have been okay,” according to Kyodo News.

Tsushima told police he was feeling rejected at social gatherings and in dating services, the news agency reported.

“I thought I could kill a large number of people as there is no space to flee on a train,” he told police, according to Kyodo News.

The 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranked Japan at 120 out of 156 countries on gender parity.

Social media videos from Sunday’s attack showed passengers trying desperately to flee the smoke-filled train car. Some were filmed climbing through windows. The attack occurred about 8 p.m. local time.

Witnesses told police that the attacker first stabbed people and then poured lighter fluid and set a fire, burning some seats, the Associated Press reported.

Some witnesses told Japanese media that they initially thought the attack was a Halloween-related stunt.

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