At least 19 people were killed in Japan when a knife-wielding man went on a rampage at a care centre for the mentally disabled early Tuesday, officials said.
Another 25 were wounded, 20 of them seriously, in the attack in Sagamihara city, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 50 km west of Tokyo, a local fire department spokesman said.
Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year old former employee at the facility, later turned himself in at a police station, admitting to officers: "I did it."
Police said staff called police at 2.30am local time (1.30am Singapore time) with reports of a man armed with a knife on the grounds of the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility.
The three-hectare facility, established by the local government and nestled on the wooded bank of the Sagami River, cares for people with a wide range of disabilities, national broadcaster NHK said, quoting an unidentified employee.
Police had recovered a bag with several knives, at least one stained with blood, NHK said. No details were provided about where the knives were found.
The man, wearing a black T-shirt, did not have a knife when he turned himself in at a nearby police station, other reports said. Police said they were still investigating possible motives.
Asahi Shimbun reported that the suspect was quoted by police as saying: "I want to get rid of the disabled from this world."
Fifteen people were initially confirmed dead, while four were said to be in cardiac arrest, media reports said. There was confusion about the number of wounded, with reports fluctuating between 20 and 45.
Twenty-nine emergency squads responded to the attack, Kyodo reported, with those wounded taken to at least six hospitals in the western Tokyo area.
A man identified as the father of a patient in the facility told NHK he learned about the attack on the radio and had received no information from the center.
"I'm very worried but they won't let me in," he said, standing just outside a cordon of yellow crime-scene tape.
The man, who arrived at the scene around 5am local time, said he had never heard of trouble at the facility before.
NHK reported that the facility is usually locked at night but the man broke into the building by smashing a window.
The facility's website said the center had a maximum capacity of 160 people, including staff.
Social media went into overdrive as news of the mass stabbing broke. "I can't stop shaking. What a terrible incident, it's just too much," one post on Twitter said.
Such mass killings are extremely rare in Japan and typically involve stabbings due to Japan's strict gun laws.
Eight children were stabbed to death at their school in Osaka by a former janitor in 2001. Seven people died in 2008 when a man drove a truck into a crowd and began stabbing people in Tokyo's popular electronics and "anime" district of Akihabara.
Members of a doomsday cult killed 12 and made thousands ill in 1995 in simultaneous attacks with sarin nerve gas on five Tokyo rush-hour subway trains.