December 1, 2023

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What do we know about the hostages at the post office?

What do we know about the hostages at the post office?

This Tuesday, October 31, a gunman took an unknown number of hostages at a post office in Saitama Department (northwest of Tokyo). Police said he was arrested.

Violent crime is rare in Japan, where the homicide rate is low and gun laws are among the strictest in the world. Still, around 2:15 p.m. (05:15 GMT) this Tuesday, “a man took hostages and took refuge in the post office” in Waraby, the municipality’s officials said on their website. He was holding a gun-like object.

There may be about ten employees inside the building

“Anyone in the vicinity of the incident is asked to follow police instructions and evacuate as per these instructions,” the statement added. According to the Yomiuri Daily, around ten post office employees may be inside the building. TV channel TBS reported that police asked 300 residents in the area to evacuate their homes.

Later, television footage showed one of the hostages, a woman in her twenties, leaving the post office shortly before 7:30 p.m. It was not possible to determine exactly how many people were still inside. Several police vehicles were parked near the post office.

Dark jacket and hat

The incident happened when the police were investigating reports of one or more gunshots heard in the same area the day before yesterday. Two people sustained minor injuries during the incident but the cause of the injuries is not known. It is also unclear whether the two incidents are related.

Television footage showed the alleged hostages inside the post office, wearing dark jackets and hats and holding what appeared to be guns. The man was eventually arrested. “Details will come later,” said a police spokesman for the Saitama precinct, northwest of Tokyo.

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Several attacks have recently rocked the archipelago, including the July 2022 killing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed by a homemade gun during an election campaign speech. Last April, current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was targeted by an improvised explosive device during an election event. He escaped unhurt, but two others were slightly injured.