Finland stabbing spree: Youth targeted women

TURKU (Finland) • Finnish police said yesterday that an 18-year-old Moroccan youth arrested after knife attacks that killed two people in the city of Turku appeared to have specifically targeted women and that the spree was being treated as terrorism-related.

Meanwhile, the Russian city of Surgut yesterday was also hit by a knife attack where a man stabbed seven people on the street before being gunned down by police.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in the Siberian city, hours after Russian investigators claimed the suspect's motive was most likely not terrorism.

The investigators said they had established the man's identity, saying he was a local resident born in 1994, and that they were looking into "his possible psychiatric disorders".

In Finland, the Moroccan suspect arrested on Friday after being shot in the leg by police had arrived in Finland last year, police said, adding that they later arrested four other Moroccan men over possible links to him.

"Due to information received during the night, the Turku stabbings are now being investigated as murders with terrorist intent," Superintendent Crista Granroth from Finland's National Bureau of Investigation told a news conference.

While the identity of the victims has not been disclosed by the authorities, police said the attacker appeared to have targeted women during the stabbing spree in downtown Turku, a city of just under 200,000 people in south-west Finland.

"It seems that the suspect chose women as his targets - the men who were wounded were injured when they tried to help, or prevent the attacks," Ms Granroth said.

Both of those killed in the attack were women, as well as six of the eight wounded, she added. The two who died were Finns, and an Italian and two Swedish citizens were among the injured.

Finnish broadcaster MTV, citing an unnamed source, said the main suspect had been denied asylum in Finland. The police said only that he had been "part of the asylum process".

Local media said the police raided an apartment in the eastern Turku suburb of Varissuo, which is home to a large immigrant population.

On Thursday, a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds in Barcelona in Spain, killing 13 people and wounding scores of others.

Finnish police said they were looking into any possible links between the Finnish stabbings and the attack in Spain and that they had issued an international arrest warrant for a sixth Moroccan national.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'Finland stabbing spree: Youth targeted women'. Print Edition | Subscribe