A man armed with a bladed weapon attacked students at a vocational college in eastern Finland on Tuesday, killing one person in an attack that left ten injured, including a police officer, police said.
Witnesses said a young man with a sword burst into a classroom. Police have yet to establish a motive for the attack.
Emergency services were called to Savo Vocational College, situated in the Herman shopping centre in the eastern town of Kuopio, at 12:29 pm (0929 GMT), police said.
‘The suspect was carrying a sabre-type bladed weapon,’ detective superintendent Mikko Lyytinen from East Finland Police told a press conference.
The suspect was also carrying a gun, he said.
Authorities have not named the suspect but have identified him as a Finnish citizen born in 1994 and enrolled as a student at the college.
Eyewitness reports in Finnish media said the suspected assailant went on a rampage in a classroom.
‘He hit a girl in the neck with a sword and stabbed her in the stomach,’ an unnamed eyewitness told Keskisuomalainen newspaper. The attacker also set off ‘some sort of small firebombs’, the eyewitness said.
Police have yet to release details about the murder victim.
‘I can confirm only at this stage that the victim was a woman,’ detective superintendent Lyytinen said.
Another eyewitness, Roosa Kokkonen, who works in a car garage opposite the college, told Finnish TV channel MTV that a teacher with blood running from her hand came fleeing out of the building.
‘While I was helping the teacher, I started hearing other shouts for help. Students were running away and into my garage,’ Kokkonen told MTV News.
She also told Finnish news agency STT that students described the weapon as ‘a long sword’, and that he ‘started swinging the sword around in the class’.
Officers shot the suspect when they apprehended him less than 10 minutes after receiving the emergency call.
‘The suspect was seriously injured during his detention and is being treated at Kuopio University Hospital,’ police said in a statement.
One police officer sustained minor injuries at the scene. Two other people were in serious condition in hospital.
Police also said the suspect started a fire on the second floor of the building which was quickly extinguished.
- 'Shocking' -
A search of the suspect's home later revealed items that can be used to make Molotov cocktails and ‘other fire-starting equipment’, Lyytinen said.
He said police had seized and were examining the suspect's computers to find clues as to a motive.
‘The perpetrator is suspected of murder and a number of other violent assault charges, as well as attempted murder and attempted assault. The specific charges will be confirmed as the investigation proceeds,’ police said.
The college and shopping centre is approximately two kilometres from the centre of Kuopio, a town of 110,000 inhabitants in the centre-east of Finland approximately 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Russian border.
In a tweet, Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne described the attack as ‘shocking and utterly reprehensible’.
Violent crime is relatively rare in Finland, a sparsely populated Nordic nation of 5.4 million people. However two school shootings in the late 2000s caused widespread shock and led to changes in the country's gun laws.
In 2007, an 18-year-old man killed seven students as well as the headteacher of a high school in the small town of Jokela, southern Finland.
A similar attack the following year at a university of applied sciences in Kauhajoki, western Finland, claimed 10 lives as well as that of the 22-year-old gunman.
In 2017, two people were killed and eight injured in a stabbing attack in the main square of Turku, a city in southwest Finland. The perpetrator, Abderrahman Bouanane, an asylum seeker, was later sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and attempted murder with terrorist intent.
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