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5TH LD: Tochigi girl found stabbed to death in Ibaraki Pref.

UTSUNOMIYA, Japan, Dec. 2 Kyodo

(EDS: CLARIFYING 2ND GRAF FROM BOTTOM)

A 7-year-old girl from Tochigi Prefecture was found dead in a forest Friday afternoon in neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture with several stab wounds to her chest and other parts of her body, police said.

Yuki Yoshida, a first-grader at Osawa Elementary School in Imaichi, Tochigi, went missing Thursday after parting from schoolmates at around 2:50 p.m., and police believe she was murdered afterward and abandoned.

Imaichi is about 60 kilometers from the forest, which is 450 meters from a cemetery. Her body was found by three hunters, and identified by her mother.

The girl was bleeding from the mouth, police said. Her belongings have not been found nearby.

The prefectural police of Ibaraki and Tochigi have launched a joint investigation team, they said.

Her mother Yoko, 38, reported her missing to the local police after she failed to arrive home by late afternoon.

According to school officials, the girl usually went home after school with her older sister or other older students. But on Thursdays, first graders go home by themselves due to different schedules, and the girl's grandmother usually came to pick her up but did not do so this Thursday.

The students have crime-alarm buzzers, according to the school.

Police said they have received an account from a local resident about a suspicious man who was seen talking to a girl on a road leading to the school around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Yuki lived with her grandmother, parents and two sisters.

The murder case follows the killing of another 7-year-old girl in the city of Hiroshima late last month, stirring concerns over child safety.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Dec 5, 2005
Words:279
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