Nagano attack has at least three dead in rare Japan incident

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TOKYO — A masked man armed with a knife and a rifle killed a woman and two police officers in the central Japanese prefecture of Nagano according to state broadcaster NHK, citing police reports.

A fourth person was injured. The man, who was wearing camouflage clothing, a mask and sunglasses, stabbed the woman and then opened fire with what appeared to be a hunting rifle when police arrived.

The three victims were taken to hospital where they died. Police said the attacker was now barricaded in a building.

Gun crimes are extremely rare in Japan were firearms are strictly regulated. The fatal shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at a campaign event last year with a homemade weapon shocked the country.

Anyone trying to obtain a gun in Japan needs to apply for a permit, attend a class on gun safety and laws, and pass a written test. There is a full-day training course on safe shooting techniques. There are multiple rounds of checks and verification on the gun owner’s background and health, including information about their family, mental health, personal debt and criminal record. The gun must be registered with and inspected by police.

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