Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 1 News List

One killed, two injured in twin blasts at Japanese park, fire department says

AFP, TOKYO

Japanese local fire department officers yesterday investigate a lifted-up car, which was burned by blasts near a park in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.

PHOTO: EPA

One person was killed and at least two injured by near-simultaneous twin blasts in a Japanese park yesterday, the local fire department said.

The explosions occurred at a park in the city of Utsunomiya, about 100km north of Tokyo, shortly after 11:30am, a fire department spokesman said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts.

“One person was found dead,” the spokesman told reporters, without elaborating.

Public broadcaster NHK said a man’s body, badly burned in one of the blasts, was found at a bicycle parking area inside the park.

The broadcaster added two men, 64 and 58, suffered severe injuries.

TV Asahi said that they had sustained shrapnel wounds, following the explosion inside the park.

“The sex and ages of the three are not known yet,” another fire official said, adding that one blast hit the facility’s car park.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that a parked car exploded, badly damaging two other nearby vehicles.

Minutes later police found the scorched body of the man inside the park at a bicycle parking area.

A festival was taking place there, but was immediately called off following the blasts, the paper added.

A man told NHK that he “smelled gunpowder in the area” after the explosions.

NHK said the sites of the two explosions were about 200m apart, and police said what is believed to be a suicide note was found in one of the burned cars.

The vehicle was owned by a 72-year-old former member of the Self-Defence Forces, whose house in Utsunomiya had been destroyed in a fire shortly before the explosions hit, it said.

Explosions of this kind are rare in Japan, although small pipe bombs blasts linked to extreme leftists occasionally hit near US military bases.

In November last year, a homemade pipe bomb exploded at a controversial Tokyo war shrine, damaging the toilets at the facility, but no one was hurt.

A South Korean man was later arrested and sentenced to four years in prison after admitting to detonating the bomb at the Yasukuni Shrine, which has been targeted by activists who see it as a symbol of Japan’s militaristic past.

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