Japan: Gunman takes post office employees hostage after injuring 2 at hospital
A post office in Warabi city of Japan is witnessing a untoward situation as a suspected gunman has taken at least two people hostage. Reuters reported that the gunman had wounded two other people in a shooting at a hospital.
The Japanese police surrounded a post office, and said the case may be linked to an earlier apparent shooting at a nearby hospital in which two people were wounded. One post office employee is still believed to be inside the building, according to AP.
Warabi, is situated North of Tokyo, the capital city of Japan. Warabi government has said in a statement an undetermined number of hostages were taken by a man "in possession of something like a handgun".
At least two female post office workers in their 20s and 30s were taken hostage, local media reported. A woman in her 20s later walked out of the building into police custody, Reuters reports.
Hundreds of police were reportedly mobilized to surround the building housing the post office. Television footage showed police officers wearing bulletproof vests squatting behind the doors of a patrol vehicle parked outside. TV also showed the suspect — an older-looking man wearing a cap and holding a gun — briefly showing up at the entrance.
Earlier Tuesday, Saitama Prefectural Police said two men — a doctor in his 40s and a patient in his 60s — were wounded after blasts resembling gunfire were heard outside of a general hospital in the city of Toda, just north of Tokyo.
The victims are both conscious and their wounds are not life-threatening, police said. Kyodo News agency said the two were believed to be inside a consultation room on the first floor when they were attacked, and that cracks were found in the window.
Police said the attacker apparently fired his gun from the street and then fled on a motorcycle, as reported by an emergency caller.
Later, a man with a handgun was reported to have holed up inside the post office in the city of Warabi, just north of Toda. Police said the two cases are being investigated together because of a possibility that they involve the same suspect. They only mentioned one suspect, a man believed to be in his 50s to 70s.
Police said the alleged gunman could be seen through a glass window at cash machines. A number of post office staff safely escaped from the building, while two initially remained inside but may not have been seen by the gunman, police said.
More than five hours after the standoff began, one member of postal staff came out uninjured. The scene was shown on NHK television as the employee, identified as a woman in her 20s, walked out and was surrounded by police.
In a third suspicious case, police are also investigating a fire that broke out at an apartment building near the hospital in Toda around the time of the shooting.
Japan has strict gun control laws, but in recent years, there has been a growing concern about handmade weapons, such as the one allegedly used in the July 2022 assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.