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Japanese youth goes berserk, kills 7

It was supposed to be just a balmy Sunday afternoon in Tokyo's subculture haven, with shoppers packing the streets to search for the latest in electronics, comic books and video games.

world Updated: Jun 08, 2008 22:57 IST

It was supposed to be just a balmy Sunday afternoon in Tokyo's subculture haven, with shoppers packing the streets to search for the latest in electronics, comic books and video games.

Instead, shoppers screamed in panic as a young man in a suit swerved his truck into pedestrians, jumped out and stabbed to death seven people as he screamed incomprehensibly.

Between the flashing billboards in the Akihabara “electric town” neighbourhood, thousands of people stopped by police crime tapes and watched investigators collect evidence from a promenade stained with blood.

“It's scary. I didn't think such a thing would happen in Japan, which we believe is a safe country,” said Maman Paturohman, a 35-year-old Indonesian man visiting the district with his friends to buy electronics goods.

Nearby, parts of Akihabara quickly returned to their usual bustle as emergency workers ran through to carry victims on stretchers into ambulances and off to hospitals.

Police arrested 25-year-old Tomohiro Kato from central Shizuoka prefecture. Kato reportedly said he had no motive other than to kill people.

“I was shocked to hear the news as I've visited this place quite often. I could have been a target if I had been here a few hours ago,” said Wataru Amano, a 26-year-old truck driver.

“I'm afraid this would put a negative image on Akihabara, where people are coming from around the world,” Amano said.

Akihabara is best known for major electronics stores and in recent years has expanded to be such a haven for Japanese subculture that travel agencies tailor tours through the neighbourhood for foreign visitors.

Its stores sell everything from the newest electrical hardware to the latest in Japan's “manga”comic books and “anime” cartoon DVDs.

Akihabara is also the undisputed headquarters of the “otaku” — Japanese geeks whose hobbies border on fanatic. The area's attractions include cafes where waitresses dress up as maids or as characters from hit video games.