Japan police detain 86-year-old suspected gunman who had barricaded himself in post office with hostages

By Akanksha Sharma, Junko Ogura and Mayumi Maruyama, CNN

Tokyo (CNN) — Japanese police on Tuesday arrested an 86-year-old suspected gunman who had barricaded himself in a post office with two hostages after injuring two people at a hospital earlier in the day.

The man was detained in the city of Warabi, Saitama prefecture, near Tokyo, police told CNN, following an hours-long standoff.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had dispatched its Special Investigation Teams, which handles hostage situations, to the post office Tuesday afternoon local time after reports the suspect had holed himself up there and authorities were unable to contact two female post office workers.

According to public broadcaster NHK, neither women was harmed in the incident. One woman walked out of the post office about five hours after the incident began, and the other escaped several hours later, NHK reported.

Police confirmed to CNN that a woman in her 20s who was being held hostage was now safe.

The hostage situation and stand off at the post office came just hours after a shooting at a hospital in nearby Toda city that injured a doctor and a male patient.

Police believe the 86-year-old was involved in that earlier incident. Police said the shooting occurred at 1 p.m. local time, and the suspect fled the hospital before barricading himself in the post office, about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) away.

Toda Mayor Fumihito Sugawara confirmed on social media that a man “suspected of carrying a gun” was barricaded in at the post office and warned residents not to go near the area.

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Earlier Tuesday, there was a fire in an apartment building not far from the hospital. Investigators believe the gunman lived in one of the apartment units, according to NHK. No one was hurt in the blaze, NHK reported.

Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan. The country has one of the world’s lowest rates of gun crime due to its strict laws on firearms ownership.

Last year, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead in Nara city while delivering a campaign speech, in an attack that shocked the nation.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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