Four dead, suspect arrested in rare shooting in Japan

Police officers near the scene of a standoff with shooting suspect. Photo: STR/ JIJI PRESS/ AFP

A 31-year-old man was arrested on Friday in rural Japan for suspected murder after four people were killed in a rare shooting and stabbing incident involving a 12-hour stand-off with police, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The suspect, the son of the head of the Nakano city council in Nagano prefecture, had holed up in his father's house after allegedly shooting two police officers who arrived at the scene in response to a report that a woman had been stabbed, NHK said.

The two police officers and the woman were taken to hospital and pronounced dead within hours, media said.

Another elderly woman also died after an apparent attack. She had been lying on the ground outside the house since Thursday afternoon and police had been unable to get to her, media said.

NHK said the suspect had been dressed in camouflage and allegedly used what appeared to be a hunting rifle in the shootings.

Police detained the man around 4:30 am (1930 GMT) on Friday, about 12 hours after the first call to emergency responders, media said. He was arrested for the suspected murder of one of the police officers, NHK said.

Shootings are extremely rare in Japan, where gun ownership is tightly regulated and anyone seeking to own a gun must go through a rigorous vetting process. The suspect had a licence for a hunting rifle, NHK reported.

The suspect's mother and another relative who were in the house with him escaped at around 8:30 p.m. and midnight, respectively, reports said.

Few other details were known, including the suspect's motive.

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