• Kyodo

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Hokkaido police arrested a 24-year-old man early Thursday over the fatal stabbing of two small children and the wounding of their 6-year-old sister during a burglary attempt the previous afternoon.

Kazuyuki Oikawa, a neighbor, turned himself in to local police at around 3:35 p.m. Wednesday and owned up to the break-in and attack, police in the southern Hokkaido coastal town of Hiroo said.

Oikawa, wearing a ski mask, broke into the house of Hajime Kikuchi, a 45-year-old company employee, at around 2:30 p.m. and stabbed the three children with a knife he found in the kitchen after ordering them to stay quiet, police said.

The children’s parents were away at the time.

Police officials quoted Oikawa as saying he had already left the Kikuchi home when he was surprised by the children, who were watching him from the second floor. He added that he had thought no one was at home, they said.

Oikawa reportedly told investigators that he removed his ski mask once outside the house, but noticed the children at a window and decided to go back in and kill them for fear of being recognized.

Police said Oikawa lives two doors away.

Kikuchi’s 2-year-old son, Tetsuya, died almost immediately from stab wounds, and his 5-year-old daughter, Masami, died shortly after she was rushed to a local hospital with multiple stab wounds to the abdomen and chest, a hospital official said.

Kazumi, the 6-year-old, managed to flee after she was injured in the attack and alerted a neighbor, who in turn called the authorities.

Autopsies were carried out on the two victims later Thursday.

At the time of the break-in, the three Kikuchi children were alone at home as their mother was out shopping. The Kikuchis have four children. Their 4-year-old daughter, Kiyomi, was at nursery school at the time of the attack. Kazumi, who attends the same school, did not go that day because she was feeling ill.

Town officials canceled classes at the nursery school Thursday, saying that both faculty and parents of other children were shocked by the incident.

Police said the knife believed used in the crime was found in a place indicated by the suspect. The ski mask, which apparently belonged to the suspect, was found inside the house.

Yasuji Saito, the neighbor who summoned authorities, said Kazumi was bleeding from stab wounds to the chest when she reached his house.

Shaking and unable to cry, she told Saito that her sister and brother were still in the house. She was holding coins, apparently hoping to call police from a pay phone at the nearby town office, Saito said. When paramedics arrived at Kikuchi’s house, Tetsuya and Masami were lying together in the vestibule, covered in blood.

Hiroo is a small town of about 9,100.

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