• Kyodo

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A mentally disturbed woman stabbed a 2-year-old girl Friday morning in a shopping mall near JR Yokohama Station before being subdued by an off-duty police officer who happened to be at the scene, police said.

The suspect was identified as a 29-year-old woman from Sanjo, Niigata Prefecture, who is being treated for schizophrenia. Her name is being withheld because of her mental condition.

Although the motive for the assault is not yet known, investigators suspect that the stabbing was a random attack, police said.

After she was subdued, the woman reportedly started making irrational statements, such as, “I did it to protect myself, because I thought the child would bite my hand.”

According to the police, the woman approached the girl, Nana Ohashi, from behind at around 10:40 a.m. while she was looking at a fountain with her mother and twin brother at the Porta shopping mall outside the station’s east exit.

She then grabbed the girl without saying a word.

After the mother asked her what she was doing, the woman allegedly stabbed the girl once in the back with a fruit knife before breaking into a fit of violent shaking.

The girl was immediately taken to a nearby hospital, where her condition was described as not life-threatening, police said.

The mother, Junko, 28, and the girl’s brother Naoki were unhurt.

The woman had been missing since Thursday, when she visited a hospital, police said. She told investigators she bought the knife in Sanjo before traveling to Yokohama on Thursday night and slept at a bathhouse near the station.

The assault sent shoppers in the busy underground mall, which is lined with restaurants and boutiques, into a panic. Witnesses said the mother was crying out for help as she tried to stop her daughter’s bleeding.

After stabbing the girl, the suspect “was shaking as if she had been hit by a convulsive attack. Her eyes were out of focus and it almost seemed she was unconscious,” said a 23-year-old nurse from Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, who was in a nearby shop when the incident took place.

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