Police investigating the assassination of Japan’s ex-prime minister Shinzo Abe have said the suspect held a grudge against a “specific organization.”
The alleged gunman, named as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, apparently believed Abe was part of the group and shot him for that reason, they said, without naming the group, the BBC reports.
Abe died in hospital on Friday morning after being shot while speaking at a political campaign event.
Yamagami has admitted shooting him with a homemade gun, police said.
Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, and his death at the age of 67 has shocked a country where gun crime is very rare.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he was “simply speechless” at the news of Abe’s death, vowing that Japan’s democracy would “never yield to violence.”
Police are still investigating whether his killer acted alone and why Abe was targeted out of other people related to the unnamed organization.
Abe was giving a speech for a political candidate at a road junction in the southern city of Nara when the attacker struck from behind.
Witnesses described a man carrying a large gun moving within a few metres of Abe and firing twice at the former PM, who fell to the ground as bystanders screamed.
Photos circulating in the aftermath of the shooting showed the suspect standing just behind Abe as he gave his speech.
Security officers jumped on to the gunman, who made no attempt to run after he fired on Abe.
The weapon that killed the politician was made using metal and wood, officers said, and appeared to be wrapped in duct tape.
Several other handmade guns and explosives were later found at the suspect’s home.
Abe suffered two bullet wounds to his neck during the attack and suffered damage to his heart.
He was said to be conscious and responsive in the minutes after the attack, but doctors said no vital signs were detected by the time the former prime minister was transferred for treatment.
Medics worked for hours to save him and Abe received more than 100 units of blood in transfusions, before he was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time (0803 GMT).
The politician was campaigning for his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party, in the run-up to elections on Sunday.
On Japanese social media, the hashtag “We want democracy, not violence” was trending throughout Friday, with many social media users expressing their horror and disgust about the incident.
Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan, where handguns are banned and incidents of political violence are almost unheard of.
In 2014, there were just six incidents of gun deaths in Japan, compared to 33,599 in the U.S. People have to undergo a strict exam and mental health tests in order to buy a gun. Even then, only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.