• Kyodo

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A 51-year-old woman was fatally stabbed Saturday afternoon by a group of young men who barged into her home in the town of Haguro, Yamagata Prefecture, local police said.

According to investigators, at least three men entered the home of civil servant Akira Sato, 52, in the afternoon and tied up his wife and 16-year-old daughter.

One of the men then stabbed the two women with a sharp knifelike object. Kayoko, his wife, was stabbed once in the left side of her chest and died from blood loss at a hospital in Tsuruoka. Atsuko, his oldest daughter, sustained minor injuries to her buttocks, police said.

An autopsy later showed that woman died after the weapon punctured her heart, police said.

Police are investigating the case both as a possible burglary attempt and as a personal matter, and said that Atsuko told them she had never seen the men before and that they did not speak the local Shonai dialect. They also said there was no sign anything had been taken from the house.

As of Sunday, some 80 police officers of the Yamagata Prefectural Police were searching for the men in conjunction with police from neighboring Akita and Niigata prefectures. The intruders, one of whom had brown, dyed hair, were described as being in their 20s.

According to police, the two women were the only ones in the house when the men broke in at around 3:50 p.m. The daughter rushed to the entrance of the home after hearing her mother scream and saw them binding her hands with an electrical cord.

Atsuko was bound with masking tape but later managed to escape through a kitchen window and go to neighbors for help, police said. Sato was in hospital at the time, and his 25-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter were also out when the incident occurred.

Neighbors said the Satos have traditionally been landowners and that the elder Sato was wealthy.

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