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Railway Station Shopping Center is Target in Latest Japan Gas Attack

By Sam Jameson
Los Angeles Times
TOKYO

Police discovered Thursday that one of the targets of Japan's second gas attack in a month was a shopping center in the Yokohama Railway Station, but they found no suspects and no clues to how the gas was released.

The number of people treated for burning eyes, sore throats and nausea rose to 695, with six still hospitalized. No one was seriously afflicted.

Police said the noxious gas was released in three locations in the Yokohama station: the shopping center, a subterranean passageway and a train passing through about 1 p.m. Wednesday. They reportedly concluded that a team of criminals must have perpetrated the attacks.

The absence of evidence and inability to confirm what chemical substance was used, however, fueled tensions in the government of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

Adding to the strain was the fact that, one month after a sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subways killed 12 and afflicted more than 5,500, no suspects have been named and no arrests directly connected with the attack have been made.

The Aum Supreme Truth cult is at the center of suspicion in the March 20 attack in Tokyo. Police raids on its facilities have turned up tons of potentially deadly chemicals, and more than 100 of its members have been arrested on charges ranging from kidnapping to violations of building codes.

Education Minister Kaoru Yosano predicted that the charges would ultimately include homicide. If those charges are brought, he said, he would urge that court proceedings be launched to dissolve the doomsday sect.

Yuko Sekiguchi, deputy chief of the National Police Agency, told a news conference that investigations into the sarin gas attack "are progressing smoothly, with one leader after another of Aum being arrested."