Japanese official says police warned of 1995 sarin gas attack

A former Japanese National Police Agency chief has revealed in an interview that a tip was received prior to the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack that killed 12 people.

Takaji Kunimatsu told Shizue Takahashi, who lost her husband in the attack, about the tip in a recent interview that comes 15 years after more than 5,000 people were injured in AUM Shinrikyo's sarin gas attack.

"We had information that AUM Shinrikyo might possibly take some kind of action because they expected that their headquarters in Yamanashi Prefecture would be raided on March 22," Kunimatsu said in the interview, The Mainichi Daily News reports.

Kunimatsu said, however, that the information was not specific enough for police to expect AUM would actually carry out the attack.

"It was already known at the time that AUM had sarin," Takahashi said. "And the police could have imagined AUM would use the sarin if they had a tip suggesting they may move to distract a police investigation in some way. We would have wanted them to apologize immediately after the incident."

According to Kunimatsu, speaking to Kyodo News, information about the attack was received by the police several days before the attack. Kunimatsu would not reveal the source of the information.

Key members of AUM Shinrikyo have said at trial that the gas attacks were ordered to distract the police from a crackdown on the group. Kunimatsu was shot at the entrance to his Tokyo condominium days after those raids began. Four men were arrested over the shooting but prosecutors did not indict them due to lack of evidence.