Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 15:59 EST
NAGOYA — One woman has died and at least three men have been injured in a series of apparent gang attacks against homeless people in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, since Friday, according to Aichi prefectural police.
A 39-year-old homeless man was assaulted by two male youths at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday under a bridge in Okazaki and was robbed of 6,500 yen in cash, police said. He suffered minor injuries to the head, chest and feet. The two youths ran away, police said.
On Thursday, police said the man was also attacked by a group of four men at the same place on Sunday and was robbed of a wallet. The attacked man said three of the four in the Sunday attack were middle-aged.
On Monday, Miyoko Hanaoka, 69, was found dead about 900 meters away on the bank of the same river with injuries to the chest and abdomen.
A wallet was found in a makeshift shelter she was living in under a bridge but no cash was found inside or anywhere in the shelter, police said. Investigators suspect cash may have been stolen.
A resident witnessed four people who appeared to have been teens speeding away by bicycle about 50 meters away on the river bank several hours after Hanaoka's body was found, according to investigations.
Police said Hanaoka was found dead by the resident around 6:55 a.m. Monday. She died of blood loss from internal wounds and died sometime after 11 a.m. Sunday.
Another middle-aged homeless man sustained minor injuries in an assault early Sunday morning by a group of four teens in a park 700 to 800 meters from the site where Hanaoka's body was found, police said.
The incident occurred at around 3 a.m. when two of the youths threatened him with steel pipes demanding money, the police said. When the man said he had no money, they set fire to cardboard boxes he was sleeping in and left, according to police.
A 77-year-old man was assaulted late Friday night through early Saturday morning near a train station in Okazaki city, and sustained injuries, police said.
On the opposite river bank from where the 39-year-old man was attacked, a 73-yea-old unemployed man was attacked early Monday morning by a group of four people who appeared to be teens, the police said. He was uninjured.