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'Samurai Sword' Attack At Tokyo Shrine Leaves 3 Dead

People visit Tomioka Hachimangu shrine in Tokyo on Friday, the day after police say three people were killed in a stabbing attack.

An apparent murder-suicide involving a samurai sword at a Tokyo religious shrine has left the head priestess dead, along with her assailant brother and his girlfriend.

Thursday night's attack at the Tomioka Hachimangu shrine, established in 1627, was captured by nearby security cameras.

Tokyo's Metropolitan Police believe that Shigenaga Tomioka, 56, and his girlfriend, thought to be in her 30s, ambushed his 58-year-old sister, Nagako Tomioka, who was the shrine's chief priestess. The sister's chauffeur was also attacked.

The Japan Times reports that police suspect that Shigenaga Tomioka killed his sister, stabbing her in the chest and stomach with a knife as his companion chased down the driver with a traditional Japanese sword, slashing him in the arm and chest. His injuries were nonetheless not life-threatening, the newspaper said.

According to the Times, "The two attackers then moved to the shrine premises, where Shigenaga Tomioka stabbed his accomplice in the chest and stomach and then stabbed himself in the left side of the chest multiple times."

The Kyodo news agency reports that a single samurai sword was found at the scene, but the newspaper says two were found.

The Times says authorities suspect a dispute between the brother and sister over the Shinto shrine's chief priest position.

The newspaper reports: "Shigenaga Tomioka was arrested some 10 years ago for blackmailing his sister. After he left the post of chief priest in 2001, he sent a threatening postcard to his sister in January 2006 in which he wrote, among other things, that he would send her to hell."

The BBC, quoting the newspaper Asahi Shimbun, adds that Shigenaga Tomioka, who had assumed the head priest's position from his father in the 1990s, was in fact fired from the post. His father was reinstalled and subsequently appointed his daughter, Nagako, to the position of chief priestess, or negi — No. 2 in the shrine's hierarchy.

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