A suspect detained for allegedly stabbing two people to death in a knife attack in the western Finnish city of Turku is being investigated for murder with possible terrorist intent, police said Saturday.
The dead from the apparent indiscriminate attack on Friday are Finnish citizens, while the eight wounded include one Italian national and two Swedes, the National Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
Police have identified the suspect, an 18-year-old Moroccan citizen who was subdued with a shot in the thigh, but have not released his name. He is hospitalized under guard.
Four other people were detained and held overnight in relation to the case, public broadcaster YLE reported. It was unclear what, if any, involvement they had.
Police said they were working with colleagues from law enforcement abroad. The NBI said others involved in the investigation were the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, police in Turku and the European Union’s police agency, Europol.
A police news conference was planned later in the day.
It was not known if the attack was linked to the decision in June by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service to raise its threat assessment to the second level of a four-step scale. At the time, it cited the Nordic country’s “stronger profile within the radical Islamist propaganda.” Finland was now considered part of the coalition against the group slamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it said.
Finnish news agency STT, citing the hospital in Turku, said three of those wounded were still in intensive care. Four remained at the hospital and four had been released.
‘She died in my arms’
A man who had been visiting from neighbouring Sweden said he was stabbed in the arm and 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 tabloid.
Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat said one of the dead was a woman belonging to the local chapter of Jehovah’s Witnesses who was handing out leaflets at a central Turku square. A spokesperson for the religious group told the tabloid they believed the woman was randomly attacked. It was not immediately clear if she was the same woman helped by Zubier.
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,” Prime Minister Juha Sipila said in a tweet.