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Japanese pensioner 'blew up car, torched house and killed himself'

Policemen and firefighters investigate a parking lot after an explosion in Utsunomiya (Pic: Gerry)
Policemen and firefighters investigate a parking lot after an explosion in Utsunomiya (Pic: Gerry)

Two explosions have hit a Japanese city, killing one person and injuring three in what police say could be a suicide.

The victim, believed to be a 72-year-old former military officer, may have set his house in Utsunomiya on fire, blown up his car in a public car park and then blown himself up in a nearby park.

A note found in the clothing of the badly burned victim included the name of the former officer, Japanese broadcaster NHK and other media reported.

One of the cars destroyed in a blaze in the car park belonged to the retired military man, and his house burned to the ground earlier, the reports said.

The back-to-back loud bangs in the park and car park shocked bystanders, many heading to a festival at the park on a sunny autumn day.

The apparent blasts occurred at about 11.30am local time within about 200 metres of each other. The festival was cancelled after the incidents.

Two men were seriously injured in the park explosion, and a 14-year-old boy suffered minor leg injuries. No one was hurt at the car park.

Kyodo News said the burned body was found after police received a call saying a person was on fire following what sounded like an explosion.

Bystanders also reported hearing loud blasts from the car park. Flames and black smoke shot into the air and repeated bangs could be heard on video posted on the Asahi newspaper's website. Nearby cars also were damaged.

Utsunomiya, the capital of Tochigi prefecture, is a city of some 500,000 people about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Tokyo. It is near the popular tourist destination of Nikko.