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August 21, 2014 7:24

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21:45 25 May 2014

2 members of all-girl pop group AKB48 wounded in attack

MORIOKA, Japan, May 25, Kyodo

Two members of all-girl pop group AKB48 and a male staff member were wounded Sunday afternoon when a man wielding a saw assaulted them at an event in Iwate Prefecture, police said, adding they had arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder.

The group members were identified by the police and a local fire department as Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18. They sustained cuts on their heads and right hands, while the male staffer sustained cuts on his left hand, the police said.

The arrested man, Satoru Umeta, is unemployed and from Towada in the neighboring prefecture of Aomori, the police said. He allegedly assaulted the victims with a saw, prompting an emergency call to the police that a man with a blade had been acting violently in an event hall.

Umeta has admitted to the allegations and was quoted as telling investigators, "I did it."

The victims were later transported to hospital.

The fan event was being held in Takizawa, Iwate, in the country's northeast, from 1 p.m., according to the pop group's website. Attendees are said to have included Minami Takahashi, one of the group's most popular members.

Kawaei and Iriyama were in the same reception line at Sunday's event, shaking hands with fans who had turned up to interact with their favorite group members.

The all-girl pop group has been hugely popular in Japan in recent years. It has sister groups outside Tokyo and even abroad, including one in Jakarta, Indonesia, called JKT48.

==Kyodo

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