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Bear attack warning issued in Japan after four people killed

Tokyo: Residents in northern Japan have been warned to stay away from mountainous areas after four aged people were killed in apparent bear attacks.

As many as four bodies were discovered recently with severe bites and scratches presumably made by large animals, police authorities in Akita prefecture said, warning people around the mountain forests to take precautions against potential attacks.

Police on Friday found a body of a badly mauled woman who suffered horrific injuries which made local authorities unable to identify her at first, Xinhua reported. The 74-year-old victim Tsuwa Suzuki, who lived in neighbouring Aomori prefecture, was reportedly attacked when picking edible wild plants alone.

Her death came soon after three men, two in their seventies and one in his sixties, died last month in apparent bear attacks while foraging for shampoo shoots in three separate incidents. On Friday, hunters killed a female Asian black bear in a forest, just 10 meters from the spot where Suzuki's remains were found.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK quoted a specialist as saying that the bear probably attacked all the four people. Bear attacks on humans often happen in Akita, but are not as fatal as the recent ones. According to figures from the Environmental Ministry, only eight people were killed by bear attacks from 1979 to last year.

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