A suspected gunman has taken people hostage inside a post office in Japan after injuring two at a hospital, local authorities said on Tuesday.

The government of the city of Warabi, located just north of Tokyo, said in a statement an unidentified number of “hostages” were taken by a man “in possession of something like a handgun”.

At least two female post office workers in their 20s and 30s are among the hostages, according to local media.

The man, between 40 and 50 years old, was earlier involved in a shooting incident at a hospital in the neighbouring city of Toda and later fled the scene, municipal authorities there said. Two people were injured at the hospital, local media reported.

Images broadcast from outside the post office on Japanese television showed a man wearing a track suit top and white shirt brandishing what looked like a pistol. Several police officers wearing body armour stood nearby.