Finland Stabbings Likely Terror Act 08/19 10:24
The knife attack in western Finland that left two people dead and seven
others wounded is "a likely terror act," Finland's intelligence agency said
Saturday, while police said Europol was investigating if it had any ties to
deadly vehicle attacks in Spain.
HELSINKI (AP) -- The knife attack in western Finland that left two people
dead and seven others wounded is "a likely terror act," Finland's intelligence
agency said Saturday, while police said Europol was investigating if it had any
ties to deadly vehicle attacks in Spain.
The suspect --- an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum-seeker --- was shot and
wounded in the thigh by police during his rampage Friday in the city of Turku.
He was hospitalized under guard --- still in intensive care Saturday --- and is
being investigated for murder with possible terrorist intent, police said.
His name has not been released but investigators say he came to Finland in
early 2016 seeking asylum.
"It's likely at this moment that we're dealing with a terror attack,"
intelligence agency investigator Pekka Hiltunen said, adding that it was
investigating the suspect's connections to the Islamic State group, since IS
"has previously encouraged this kind of behavior."
The agency however did not change the country's threat assessment following
the Friday attack.
Crista Granroth of the National Bureau of Investigation said the suspect's
attack was very focused.
"We think the attacker was going after women," Granroth said, adding that
one man was slashed with the knife when he tried to stand between the attacker
and a woman.
The suspect has yet to be questioned, while four others, also Moroccans
living in Turku who know him, were detained on suspicion of involvement. An
international arrest warrant had been issued for a sixth person, police said,
declining to elaborate.
The two dead were Finnish women, while the seven wounded included four
Finns, and one Italian, one Briton and one Swedish man. Two of the wounded were
still in intensive care. The youngest victim was 15, the oldest 67, police said.
Prime Minister Juha Sipila told a news conference that if confirmed as an
act of terrorism, "it's the first time Finland has encountered such a terror
"Finland is not an island," he said. "We have feared something like this but
we have been prepared," Sipila said, called the attack "a cowardly act."
Sipila told reporters he had spoken with several European leaders, including
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, about the attack.
The NBI said investigators were working with colleagues from the Finnish
Security Intelligence Service, police in Turku and the European Union's police
agency, Europol. Robin Lardot, head of the NBI, said Europol was helping to
check whether there are connections to the vehicle attacks in Barcelona but
refused to elaborate.
The Swedish security service said it was helping its Finnish colleagues.
In June, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service raised its threat
assessment to the second level of a four-step scale, citing the Nordic
country's "stronger profile within the radical Islamist propaganda." Finland
was now considered part of the coalition against the Islamic State group, it
A man from Sweden who was stabbed in the arm had tried to help another
victim who died.
"I tried to stop the violent bleeding from her throat ... The woman was so
badly injured that she died in my arms," Hassan Zubier told the Expressen
The Ilta-Sanomat tabloid said one of the dead was a local Jehovah's Witness
who was handing out leaflets at a central Turku square. The religious group
told the tabloid they believed the woman was randomly attacked.
Flowers and candles were placed on a square in Turku, and Finnish flags flew
at half-staff across the country.
"We need to stick together now, hate is not to be answered by hate," Sipila,
the prime minister, said in a tweet. A minute of silence was planned for Sunday
at 10 a.m.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter that
"Europeans stand with #Turku and called it "another cowardly terrorist attack