Three people were killed, including two police officers, in a shooting and stabbing attack in central Japan on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing police.
Police received a call in the late afternoon with reports that a “man stabbed a woman,” a Nakano City police official told CNN.
When officers rushed to the scene, the man fired something resembling a hunting rifle, striking four people, before fleeing the scene and barricading himself in a building, he added.
The woman was taken to hospital where she was subsequently pronounced dead.
NHK later reported that two police officers also died from their injuries and that one other person was injured.
The suspect was wearing a camouflage hat, top and bottoms with sunglasses and a mask, according to NHK.
Nakano City urged citizens to stay indoors in a statement posted onto social media Thursday.
The Nakano city police spokesman told CNN that authorities designated an “evacuation zone” with a radius of 300 meters around the incident scene.
The police spokesman added that its forces are investigating reports a gunshot-like sound was heard near the scene hours after the attack.
Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan. The country has one of the lowest rates of gun crimes in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws.
In 2018, Japan, a country of 125 million people, only reported nine deaths from firearms – compared with 39,740 that year in the United States, according to data compiled by the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney.
However, Japan was rocked by a shooting last year that reverberated around the world.
Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot dead during a campaign speech in Nara in July.
His murder sent shock waves through Japan and the international community, and also sparked questions about whether enough security was in place to protect him despite Japan’s track record for being a safe place.
Getting hold of a firearm in Japan is extremely difficult and the suspect in Abe’s shooting used a homemade weapon.