Japanese police arrest 86-year-old hostage taker

Japanese police arrest 86-year-old hostage taker

Armed elderly man holed up inside post office after shootings at a nearby hospital

Police officers take cover behind cars outside the post office where a suspected gunman took two people hostage after injuring two at a hospital, in Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, Japan on Tuesday. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)
Police officers take cover behind cars outside the post office where a suspected gunman took two people hostage after injuring two at a hospital, in Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, Japan on Tuesday. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)

TOKYO — Police arrested an 86-year-old man who had barricaded himself with a firearm inside a post office near Tokyo on Tuesday, while at a nearby hospital, two people were injured following gunshots.

Two female postal workers were left inside the Warabi post office in Saitama Prefecture when the man, later identified as Tsuneo Suzuki, 86, began to hole up there from around 2.15pm. One of the women was released unharmed, and the other managed to escape.

Police entered the post office about eight hours later and arrested Suzuki. They also seized an object that appeared to be a gun from the scene.

The area had been on high alert as gunshots were heard from the post office, where Suzuki was seen moving around inside. The police had urged nearby locals to evacuate.

The police are investigating the connection between the two incidents, which occurred an hour apart in the early afternoon.

In the first one at the Todachuo General Hospital in Toda, about 1.3km south of the post office in Warabi, a doctor in his 40s and a patient in his 60s suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to the police. The two were apparently in an examination room on the ground floor at the time.

The hospital had informed the police that a man rode off on a motorbike, raising speculation that he was the same person who had barricaded himself in the post office.

Images broadcast on television showed a man wearing a track suit top and white shirt standing just inside the post office brandishing what looked like a pistol. Several police officers wearing body armour were stationed nearby.

Before the incident at the hospital, a fire was also reported at an apartment in Toda in Saitama Prefecture, where Suzuki is believed to have been residing.

Violent crime, especially incidents involving guns, is rare in Japan.

There were just nine shooting incidents last year, according to the national police agency, of which six were related to criminal gangs.

Those incidents resulted in four fatalities, including the killing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by a man with a homemade gun at a campaign rally in July.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (2)