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Japanese police question student who injured 58

Saturday June 11, 2005

Japanese police question student who injured 58

TOKYO (AP) - Police questioned an 18-year-old student on Saturday about why he threw a homemade bomb into a high school classroom in southern Japan, wounding 58 teenagers when the gunpowder-filled jar exploded, spraying the room with glass shards and nails. 

News reports said the boy told police he "had a grudge against a student in the class'' and made the explosive using instructions found on the Internet. 

One male student was seriously injured with cuts to his legs and abdomen, and another student broke his finger in the attack Friday at Hikari public high school in Yamaguchi prefecture (state). 

The other injuries were minor. 

Police said the boy fashioned the bomb from a glass bottle filled with a combination of gunpowder and other substances. 

The more severe injuries were caused by several dozen nails which were stuffed into the bottle along with gunpowder stripped from firecrackers and connected to a crude fuse, Asahi TV and the Mainichi newspaper reported. 

Public broadcaster NHK said he told police he used instructions from a Web site to make the bomb. 

The suspect was arrested soon after the attack on charges of assault.  

But police have not ruled out the possibility of raising that charge to attempted murder, the Yomiuri newspaper said. 

Teachers and administrators from the high school convened Saturday to set up a team to investigate why the incident occurred and arrange counseling for traumatised students, school official Norio Fukano said. 

School officials and news reports described the boy as quiet, courteous and a conscientious student who never skipped class and had an academic record "above average.''  

The suspect's name was being withheld because he is a minor under Japanese law. 

But they also described a loner who was often bullied since middle school and was extremely withdrawn. 

"Of course we will be looking into whether bullying may have had something to do with the incident,'' Fukano said. 

When the boy threw the bomb into the classroom, it burst into flames and exploded with a loud bang as it landed just in front of the teacher's desk, spreading shards of glass, nails and white smoke across the room, officials said. 

Of the 58 students treated after the incident, 17 were hospitalised. 

The school, which is known as one of the best in the area, sent all students home on Friday but will resume classes on Monday, Fukano said. 

Friday's bomb attack was the latest high-profile attack at Japanese schools and is likely to reinforce worries about a rising trend in juvenile crime and Internet-linked violence. 

In February, a 17-year-old boy stabbed a teacher to death with a sashimi knife at his former elementary school near western Osaka. 

Last June, an 11-year-old schoolgirl stunned the country when she murdered her sixth-grade classmate with a box-cutter because of a spat over the Internet. 

The latter incident prompted many Japanese to question whether adults were being vigilant enough about children's use of the Internet. - AP

For Another perspective from The Daily Yomiuri, a partner of Asia News Network, click here

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