Two teenage members of a Japanese girl group have been attacked by a saw-wielding man at a meet-the-fans event.
Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18, suffered broken bones in their right hands and cuts on their arms and heads from the 50cm (20 inch) saw.
The attack in Iwate, in northern Japan, came after a small concert on Sunday afternoon as fans were queuing to shake hands with the members of AKB48 inside booths, according to reports.
Kawaei and Iriyama were in the same booth when a man suddenly brandished the saw, the Yomiuri daily reported.
Fans quoted in Japanese media said they heard a shriek, apparently from one of the women, saying “stop it!”
Staff and security guards quickly jumped on the attacker and held him until police arrived, according to reports.
A male member of staff suffered a cut to his hand.
A fan described how Kawaei was covered in blood when she was taken away to an ambulance.
A statement from the band’s management said both girls are expected to be released from hospital on Tuesday.
Police said a 24-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
A detective with Iwate prefectural police told the AFP news agency: “We have started questioning the suspect this morning to know details, including his motive.”
AKB48 is a hugely popular song and dance group that has a rotating cast of more than 90 members known in Japan as “idols”.
Some fans have questioned why their idols were not better protected.
One wrote on an internet forum: “I pray that the three people will be in good health again soon… and the two group members will show us soon they are in good shape.
“I also hope for a strengthening of security checks such as by introducing a metal detector.”
Speaking from the group’s theatre in the Tokyo district of Akihabara, from which the group gets its name, a 17-year-old told Yomiuri: “I’m very worried about my favourite member who was hurt.
“I don’t understand why anyone would do such a thing.”
Violent crime is rare in Japan, where carrying a blade without a reason, including scissors, a box-cutter or a survival knife, is banned.
26 May 2014 | 11:34 am – Source: orange.co.uk