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Nine people were injured - one seriously - in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward in the early hours of Tuesday when a man rammed his auto into pedestrians on a well-known shopping street in what he claimed was an act of terrorism, authorities said.

With an "intent to murder", a 21-year-old man drove a small vehicle into Takeshita Street in Tokyo's fashion district of Harajuku at 10 minutes past midnight (15:10 GMT on Monday), a police spokesperson told AFP news agency.

Ten minutes after midnight in Tokyo on January 1 a van ploughed into pedestrians on a small street in the Shibuya Ward, injuring at least eight people.

NHK footage showed the van with a smashed front and paramedics carrying the injured on stretchers into ambulances.

A ninth person was injured after Kusakabe got out of the auto and punched him, police said.

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The vehicle barreled down the narrow street, which was packed with pedestrians, slamming into a number of them, police said. The suspect appeared to have planned to set his vehicle on fire, Mainichi newspaper and other Japanese media reported.

The Japanese news outlet stated in its report that is unclear to which execution the suspect was referring.

The street was closed to vehicular traffic at the time as it was expected to be crowded with people, including those making New Year's visits to the nearby Meiji Shrine, one of the biggest Shinto shrines in Japan.

Investigative sources quoted Kusakabe as saying at first he had perpetrated an act of terrorism. Seven people were killed.

The crash occurred early on Tuesday (local time) on Takeshita Street, well known to tourists and pop culture and fashion fans.