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AKB48 members attacked by saw-wielding man

Kyodo

A man wielding a saw assaulted AKB48 during an event in Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture, on Sunday afternoon, wounding two members of the all-girl pop group and a male staffer, police said. The suspect was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

The members were identified by their management office as Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18.

It was not immediately known why the man attacked the group or whether the two dancers were specifically targeted.

Kawaei’s right thumb was cut and fractured as was Iriyama’s right little finger, the management office said. They were taken to a hospital and underwent surgery, the office said. The singers also suffered cuts on their heads, the police said.

The male staffer suffered cuts to his left hand.

The man was identified as Satoru Umeta, 24, unemployed, from Towada in neighboring Aomori, the police said. He allegedly assaulted the young performers with a saw, prompting an emergency call that a man with a blade was acting violently in the event hall.

The fan event started at 1 p.m., according to the pop group’s website. Minami Takahashi, one of the group’s most popular members, was reportedly attending.

The all-girl pop group is hugely popular and has inspired sister groups within Japan and abroad, including one in Jakarta called JKT48.