Two dead and six injured in Finland knife attack
Suspect shot in the leg and arrested after incident in Finnish city of Turku
Two people are dead and at least six are injured after a stabbing incident in the Puutori market square in the Finnish city of Turku, police said on Friday.
Police shot the suspected attacker in the leg and arrested him. They said they had yet to establish the identity of the man who appeared to be of foreign origin, or his motive.
The suspect is currently being treated in hospital.
Police warned people to stay away from the city and reinforced security nationwide, with increased patrols and more surveillance, in case more people were involved. People were allowed to return to the city centre a few hours later.
“At this stage, there is only one suspect and we are investigating whether there are more people involved ... but it looks likely (he was alone),” said Markus Laine from the National Bureau of Investigation.
“At this stage, we do not investigate this (as a terrorism attack) but the possibility has not been ruled out,” he told a news conference.
Interior Minister Paula Risikko said: “We have not been able to confirm the person’s identity... we have been in contact with the immigration service as the person looks like a foreigner.”
Scene of panic
Broadcaster YLE reported that several people were seen lying on the ground in the central market square.
The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat said that a woman with a buggy was among those attacked by a man with a large knife.
Finnish police say they have reinforced security at Helsinki Airport and at train stations following the stabbings.
Eyewitnesses described the panic at the scene. “A man walked towards the ice cream stand where I work, and he hit a woman three times. He started running, went past my kiosk, and he had a knife in his hand,” Terttu Lehtinen told Reuters.
She said that some other men ran behind, apparently chasing him. “We were sitting by the market square, just enjoying the afternoon. Suddenly people started screaming and yelling, they were hysterical,” said another witness, who gave her name only as Reetta.
“We started running towards our car and, as we got there, my boyfriend said a woman had been stabbed several times in the neck,” she told Reuters. The six wounded were taken to hospital, police said.
Terrorism threat level raised
Prime minister Juha Sipila said: “My deepest condolences to the families and close-ones of the Turku victims. The events of the day are shocking us all.” He added that the government would meet later.
Finland is usually peaceful but the Security Intelligence Service raised the terrorism threat level in June, saying it had become aware of terrorism-related plans in Finland. The government has grown more concerned about attacks, partly since an Uzbek man killed four people in neighbouring Sweden in April by driving a hijacked truck into crowd in central Stockholm.
Turku lies on Finland’s southwest coast about 160km west of Helsinki.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the Irish Embassy in Helsinki. It said it had no reports of any Irish citizens being affected by the attack.
It said that anyone with concerns over loved ones in Turku can contact the department’s consular assistance team on 01-4082000.
Reuters and PA