OSAKA (Kyodo) -- A police officer was stabbed and his pistol was stolen in the northern Osaka Prefecture city of Suita, authorities said Sunday, with the male suspect who fled the scene yet to be apprehended.
The 26-year-old officer Suzunosuke Kose was found at a police box with serious injuries and a knife embedded in the left side of his chest. Emergency services were notified of the incident at around 5:40 a.m., according to police.
Kose was apparently attacked after two fellow officers left the police box to respond to an emergency call reporting a home break-in. A pay phone about 800 meters south of the police box was used for the call, which the police believe was a false report.
The suspect, who is facing potential robbery and attempted murder charges, is thought to be around 30 years old and is about 170-180 centimeters tall.
Surveillance camera footage showed a man loitering around the police box, which is located in front of Hankyu Railway's Senriyama Station, about an hour before the incident. The police released footage of the man.
The gun was loaded with five bullets when it was stolen.
The incident shocked local residents and led some nearby universities to cancel open campus events.
"The police officers here were all nice. I hope the suspect will be caught before the gun is used," a 49-year-old woman said.
Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura tweeted a warning to Suita residents, asking them to be especially mindful of children's safety. He also said that schools in the northern Osaka area have been instructed to cancel events and club activities.
The incident happened at a time when the prefectural police have been stepping up security in the nearby city of Osaka where a meeting of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies will be held late this month.
Police departments in Japan have been introducing new pistol holsters designed to prevent officers from being disarmed following a series of serious incidents in which there was a struggle for a firearm.
Kose was using an older-style holster and a clip that was meant to keep his pistol attached to a cable had come off, according to the police.
The incident in Suita is the latest in a string of similar attacks on police in Japan.
In January, a university student armed with a knife and hammer slightly injured an officer at a police station in Toyama, central Japan. The student, who was arrested on the spot, told investigators he tried to steal a gun so he could use it to commit suicide.
In June last year, a former member of the Self-Defense Forces stabbed to death an officer at a police box in Toyama, stole his handgun and fatally shot a security guard at a nearby school.