- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Knife restrictions eyed after stabbings

TOKYO | Mourners piled flowers and other mementos at the scene of a deadly stabbing rampage as the government Monday sought to impose tighter controls over large knives and provide better security in public places.

News that the attacker had posted Internet messages saying he intended to kill people in the Akihabara district, the heart of Tokyo’s comic book and youth culture, added to the shock as Japan struggled to make sense of the violence, which left seven people dead and 10 wounded.

“It’s unbelievable that things like this are happening in our country,” said Tsutsumo Hirano, 19, paying respects at the makeshift memorial.

Tomohiro Kato, 25, a temporary worker at a factory outside Tokyo, was splattered with blood when he was arrested Sunday during the lunchtime attack in the crowded shopping district.

Police say Kato rammed a rented two-ton truck into a crowd of shoppers, then jumped out and began stabbing victims who had been knocked down before lashing out at others in the crowd.

National broadcaster NHK said Kato posted Internet messages under a thread titled, “I will kill people in Akihabara,” and wrote: “I want to crash the vehicle and, if it becomes useless, I will then use a knife. Goodbye, everyone.”

According to the NHK report, another message was sent from Akihabara by cell phone that read: “It’s time,” just 20 minutes before the truck hit the first pedestrians.

Government officials scrambled to respond to Sunday’s attack. In an emergency meeting, the ruling coalition considered limiting access to knives similar to the one used in the stabbing, which had a five-inch blade.


Tehran warns Israel over attack threat

TEHRAN | Iran’s defense minister warned of a “painful response” if Israel attacks Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday.

Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was responding to statements from Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli Cabinet minister, who warned Friday that Israel will attack Iran if Tehran doesn’t abandon its nuclear program.

Israel, which itself is thought to have stockpiled about 200 nuclear weapons, has accused Iran of seeking to build its own arsenal.

Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity, not bombs.

“If somebody wants to do such a foolish job, the response will be very painful,” IRNA quoted Mr. Najjar as saying.

Mr. Mofaz set off an international uproar over the weekend by saying in a published interview that Israel will have “no choice” but to attack Iran if it doesn’t halt its nuclear program. Mr. Mofaz is a former military chief and defense minister, and has been Israel’s representative in strategic talks over Iran with U.S. officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert distanced himself Sunday from the statements but didn’t explicitly reject Mr. Mofaz’s threatening comments.


Parents receive letter from captured soldier

JERUSALEM | The parents of captured Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit have received a letter from him.

Cpl. Shalit was abducted by Hamas-allied militants near the Gaza border nearly two years ago. Hamas released the letter as part of a promise it gave former President Jimmy Carter during a meeting in April.

The Carter Center said the letter arrived at its Ramallah office Sunday and was delivered to Cpl. Shalit’s parents.

The center said Mr. Carter will attempt to arrange for a return letter to be sent from Cpl. Shalit’s parents to their son and continue to help mediate a deal for his release.

Israeli media did not disclose the contents of the handwritten message, but said there were indications it was written recently.


Ban on pit bulls to be lifted

AMSTERDAM | The Dutch government says it will lift a long-standing ban on pit bulls because it did not lead to any decrease in dog bites.

Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg informed parliament of the decision, which follows the advice of a commission of experts appointed to review the policy.

Instead, the country will focus on enforcing local leashing laws and owner education programs.

Spokesman Koen Geelink said Monday the ministry hopes to have a new policy in place by the end of the year, in which dogs that have displayed aggression will be assessed by an expert.


Court convicts Shi’ite rebel

SAN’A, Yemen | A Yemeni security court on Monday convicted 13 Shi’ite rebels of plotting terrorist attacks, sentencing one of them to death, a judicial official said.

The defendants, including one woman, were followers of the late radical Shi’ite cleric Hussein Badr Eddin al-Hawthi and formed a terrorist cell to attack government facilities, assassinate military leaders and poison water supplies feeding army camps, the official said.

He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Jaafar Mohammed Ahmed was sentenced to death for murdering two security officers during an attempt to arrest him. The 12 others convicted received prison terms between one and 10 years.

Yemen has fought a Shi’ite rebellion in the north since 2004.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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