At least three people have been killed in an attack in Nagano in a rare incident in Japan

TOKYO — A masked man armed with a knife and rifle killed a woman and two police officers in central Japan’s Nagano prefecture, state broadcaster NHK said, citing police reports.

A fourth person was injured and has yet to be recovered by emergency services. The gunman, wearing camouflage clothing, a mask and sunglasses, stabbed the woman and then opened fire with what appeared to be a shotgun when police arrived.

The three victims were taken to a hospital, where they died. Police said the attacker was now barricaded in a building that has been described as the home of the president of the city council. Television footage showed police in body armor at the building with an ambulance nearby.

Gun crimes are extremely rare in Japan, where firearms are strictly regulated. The fatal shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a campaign event last year with a homemade weapon shocked the country.

What are Japan’s gun laws? Abe’s murder shocks the nation with few shootings.

Anyone attempting to obtain a gun in Japan must obtain a permit, attend a gun safety and law course, and pass a written exam. There is a full-day course in safe shooting techniques.

There are multiple rounds of checks and verifications of the gun owner’s background and health, including information about their family, mental health, personal debts and criminal record. The weapon must be registered with and inspected by the police.

Last year there were nine shootings with four dead and two wounded in the country — six of the shootings involved the yakuza criminal network, according to the National Police Agency.

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