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2 die from suspected gunshots near yakuza office in Kobe, gangster arrested

The office of the Yamaken-gumi gang group is seen in Kobe's Chuo Ward on the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2019, after suspected gunshots were heard nearby. (Mainichi)

KOBE -- Two men died after suspected gunshots were heard near the office of an affiliate of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi gang group in this city's Chuo Ward on Oct. 10, police said.

At around 2:40 p.m. on Oct. 10, police received a call reporting possible gunshots near the office of the Yamaken-gumi, a gang affiliated with the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, in Kobe's Chuo Ward, Hyogo Prefecture, in western Japan.

According to Hyogo Prefectural Police and local fire authorities, two men in their 40s and 50s were rushed to a hospital after they were apparently shot, but they died shortly afterward.

Hyogo Prefectural Police arrested Toshio Maruyama, 68, from Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, on the spot on suspicion of attempting to murder the man in his 40s by shooting him on a street. Maruyama is a high-ranking member of a gang under the Kodo-kai, which is affiliated with the nation's largest organized crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

Police also confiscated two handguns. Police will upgrade the charges to murder and investigate his motives behind the actions.

A company employee in his 50s who lives near the scene said, "I heard big bangs twice." Another man in his 40s testified, "After I heard a sound and went outside, I saw a man appearing to be a gang member scuffling with police officers. A man was collapsed in front of the office."

The Yamaken-gumi is the core organization of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, a splinter group from the Yamaguchi-gumi. There was also a shooting incident in August in front of the office of the Kodo-kai gang in Kobe's Chuo Ward. The Kodo-kai is a rival group of the Yamaken-gumi.

The latest incident took place in an area that has many residences and buildings, about 500 meters west of JR Motomachi Station.


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