Auto deliberately driven into New Year's Eve crowds injuring eight in Tokyo

Car attack injures 8 pedestrians in Tokyo during New Year's festivities

Eight people were injured after a man rammed his auto into pedestrians on a shopping street in central Tokyo in the early hours of Tuesday, police said.

A 21-year-old suspect, named as Kazuhiro Kusakabe, was arrested and being questioned, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said.

Police say the man is suspected of intentionally trying to kill people by ploughing the medium-sized van into crowds who had lined the streets to welcome in 2019.

Footage from local broadcaster NHK showed a small van with its entire front end smashed and officers and ambulance workers rushing to the scene.

Another 19-year-old man was slightly injured after Kusakabe allegedly struck him after getting out of the vehicle, the police said.

Police inspect a auto whose driver rammed his vehicle into crowds on Takeshita street in Tokyo early January 1, 2019. His condition was not immediately known.

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He drove the wrong way on the one-way street and hit eight men aged between 19 and 51 while traveling around 140 meters, the police said. Police declined to comment on reports by the Mainichi newspaper and other Japanese media that the suspect appeared to have planned to set his vehicle on fire, and said such possible motives were still under investigation.

Popular with teenagers, it runs right by Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. It was not clear if he was referring to a specific execution or capital punishment in general.

Investigative sources quoted Kusakabe as saying at first he had perpetrated an act of terrorism.

The attack occurred on Takeshita Street, which is a well-known shopping and tourist destination in the Harajuku area, near the Meiji Shrine.

Japan is a relatively crime free nation with strict gun-control laws.

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