9 injured as auto rams into New Year's revelers in Tokyo

Man arrested after driving into pedestrians

Man arrested after driving into pedestrians

A minivan slammed into pedestrians early Tuesday on a street where people had gathered for New Year's Eve festivities in downtown Tokyo, police said.

The incident occurred on Takeshita Street in the Harajuku district, a famous and crowded shopping street on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, where vehicles were banned from entering on Monday night. NHK reported that Kusakabe told police he was acting in "retribution for the death penalty".

In a similar attack in 2008, a man who said he was exhausted of life drove a rental truck into a crowd of pedestrians in Tokyo before jumping out and stabbing several people. He also had a tank of kerosene in the rental auto, which he planned to use to light the vehicle on fire.

The driver, identified as Kazuhiro Kusakabe, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of arrested murder.

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The street was closed to vehicles at the time of the incident to accommodate the large number of pedestrians making their way to the shrine for New Year's prayers. "Really scary, isn't it?" one bystander told NHK. One victim is reportedly in a coma.

Kusakabe fled the scene, but the police found him in a nearby park about half an hour later.

There is no information so far to suggest foreign tourists were among the injured, the police spokesman said.

Takeshita Dori is closed to traffic and is often tightly packed with fashionistas and global tourists. The area had been prohibited for cars, as many visitors had been expected at Meiji Jingu to pray for the New Year.

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