9 injured as vehicle rams into New Year's revelers in Tokyo

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A auto plowed into crowds who were celebrating the passing of the New Year early on January 1 in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, Japan, leaving a total of nine people injured.

Japanese police arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of intention to kill shortly after the crash in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Every New Year's Eve, the train line that includes Harajuku station runs all night.

According to national broadcaster NHK, the driver told police he was acting in "retribution for the death penalty" without giving more precise details.

Eight people were injured in the crash.

Local TV footage showed the small van with a smashed-up front end as ambulance workers and police officers rushed to the scene.

Kusakabe told the police he had meant to kill the pedestrians he hit "in retaliation for an execution". Another witness, who runs a clothing shop in the area, said: "I am shocked that something like this happened on Takeshita Street".

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One eyewitness told local media that he saw "people collapsed one after another and being helped". Local media said a container with kerosene inside was found inside the rental auto.

Police cordoned off the street, which, during the day, is packed with tourists.

Police said one teenage boy had been taken to the hospital after the attack, where he is undergoing an operation.

A man was arrested, with a police spokesman telling AFP news agency he had an "intent to murder".

Unlike in other major cities, New Year's Eve in Tokyo is a relatively muted affair.

Japanese police said a ninth person was injured after Kusakabe got out of his vehicle and punched him.

Some media reports said the man had linked the attack to the executions in July of 13 members of the Aum Shinrikyo or Aum Supreme Truth cult, who were responsible for a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.