TOKYO — A man plowed into shoppers with a truck Sunday and then stabbed 17 people within minutes, killing at least seven of them in a grisly attack that shocked a country known for its low crime rate.
The lunchtime violence in the Akihabara district, a popular electronics and video game area, sent thousands of people fleeing.
The assault, which occurred on the seventh anniversary of a mass stabbing at a Japanese elementary school, was the latest in a series of knife attacks that have stoked fears of rising violent crime in Japan.
A 25-year-old man, Tomohiro Kato, was arrested with blood on his face.
"The suspect told police that he came to Akihabara to kill people," said Jiro Akaogi, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.
"He said he was tired of life. He said he was sick of everything," Akaogi said.
The violence began when the man crashed a rented, 2-ton truck into pedestrians.
He then jumped out and began stabbing the people he had knocked down with the truck before turning on horrified onlookers, police said.
Police confirmed seven deaths — six men and one woman — but they could not say whether the victims had died of injuries from the truck or were stabbed to death.
Reports said the attacker grunted and roared as he slashed and stabbed at Sunday shoppers crowding a street lined with huge stores.
A witness told national broadcaster NHK that the suspect dropped his knife after police officers threatened to shoot him.
Amateur video filmed by mobile phone showed policemen overpowering the bespectacled, bloodied suspect.
At least 17 ambulances rushed to the scene, and rescue workers feverishly tended to victims in the street.
As night fell on Akihabara, several pedestrians stopped by and prayed at the crime scene.
A bouquet of flowers, bottles of green tea and incense sticks were placed at the site.