• Kyodo

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The man who allegedly stabbed eight children to death in an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, on Friday had a host of personal problems and was due to be at the Osaka prosecutors’ office the same day in connection with another assault case, investigative sources said Saturday.

Mamoru Takuma, 37, reportedly told police he had been suffering from insomnia recently, while sources said he was also experiencing problems with his former wife.

According to the sources, Takuma was ordered to present himself at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office at 2 p.m. Friday in connection with a fight at an Osaka hotel last October in which Takuma, then working as a tax driver, allegedly assaulted a hotel employee.

The papers on the case were sent to the prosecutors in April. Investigators are looking into whether these problems were connected with Friday’s attack, the sources said.

The attack on first- and second-grade pupils at the school, attached to the state-run Osaka Kyoiku University, occurred around 10:15 a.m. during a recess. Fifteen others, including two teachers, were also injured.

On Friday, Takuma was quoted as telling police, “I got fed up with everything. I tried suicide many times, but I didn’t die. I wanted to be arrested and executed.”

Police said Takuma nodded and responded “Yes,” when asked if he was aware of what he had done immediately after being arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. That charge was later changed to suspicion of murder. However, he fell asleep during the police interrogation and said he felt exhausted.

Takuma seemed to have calmed down Saturday and investigators are continuing to question him, police said. He was quoted as telling police that he had taken 10 times his daily dose of tranquilizers before the attack and that he was hallucinating.

In March 1999, Takuma was arrested and sent to prosecutors on suspicion of making four teachers drink tea laced with tranquilizers at an elementary school in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, where he was working as a janitor. He was not indicted, but local authorities hospitalized him for treatment for mental illness.

Police said the result of the autopsy conducted on the children who were stabbed to death showed that most were stabbed in their back. Some children had sustained several deep wounds, indicating that Takuma had chased before attacking them.

Police started searching Takuma’s apartment in the city Saturday afternoon. A resident of the same apartment complex said Takuma’s room had been in darkness for a week or so before the incident, although a TV seemed to be on from time to time.

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