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OSAKA — More than 3,200 Hyogo and Osaka police officers are on alert after the boss of a powerful gang was gunned down late August 28 in a Kobe coffee shop.

The gangland hit appears to signify an internal power struggle within Yamaguchi-gumi, the country’s largest crime syndicate, police said.

Takumi-gumi gang leader Masaru Takumi, 61, No. 2 man in Yamaguchi-gumi, was shot in the head and neck by two of four assailants who stormed the coffee shop on the fourth floor of a hotel, firing off about 10 shots. A stray bullet from the shooting left dentist Hiroshi Hirai, 69, from Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, in a coma, doctors said. He was seated near Takumi’s table.

Shortly after the shooting, a suspicious white car was seen making a sharp turn and quickly driving away after encountering a police patrol in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, it was learned August 29. Investigators said the vehicle, carrying several passengers, was in an an Osaka-bound lane before it suddenly accelerated and turned at an intersection on National Route No. 2 near the Amagasaki Nishi Police Station.

Police have learned that the four men fled the shooting scene in a white passenger car and suspect the car witnessed in Amagasaki may have been carrying the gunmen, they said. A check of the vehicle’s license plate found that the car belongs to an Osaka company affiliated with a Yamaguchi-gumi gang, the investigators said. Police are trying to determine whether the gang had trouble with Takumi-gumi.

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