Finnish police call fatal stabbing an act of terrorism

Police in Finland said Saturday they were classifying a fatal stabbing attack in a southwestern city as terrorism.

Two people were killed and six others wounded Friday when an 18-year-old Moroccan man went on a stabbing rampage, authorities said. He was shot in the leg by police and was being treated in intensive care.

The attack unfolded in Turku, about 100 miles west of Helsinki, jolting a continent still learning the full extent of a terrorist strike targeting Spain, where police were trying to piece together details of two deadly vehicular assaults and an explosion at a house that police said had been used by the attackers.

The Islamic State claimed links to the attacks in Spain, the nation’s worst in more than a decade.

Police in Finland initially said they did not believe the stabbing was related to terrorism. However, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation took control of the case and was investigating with the assistance of Finnish intelligence services.

“The act had been investigated as murder, but during the night we received additional information which indicates that the criminal offences are now terrorist killings,” police in southwest Finland said in a statement Saturday.

Finnish Interior Minister Paula Risikko said Friday the suspect’s identity was unclear but described him as “foreign-looking.” She said authorities were contacting immigration officials to learn more. Authorities on Saturday announced his nationality but not further details of his identity.

The two people who died of stabbing wounds were Finnish, police said. Among the injured were two Swedes and one Italian.

Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipila, offered condolences to relatives of the victims and called the day’s events “tragic.” The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, also weighed in to condemn the attack, saying its gravity was heightened by the attacks in Spain hours earlier.

Security was tightened across the country, including at airports and train stations. National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen warned civilians that they might see armed security personnel in the streets. 

Police asked people to clear the center of Turku as they searched for more potential suspects.

A video circulated Friday on Twitter in which users said a man could be heard crying “Allahu akbar,” but others replied saying that the shouts were Finnish for “watch out.” An eyewitness told Turun Sanomat, a Turku-based newspaper, that she was buying potatoes in the market square when she saw people running and screaming. Among the victims, she said, was a woman with a small child. 

Also Friday, police in the western German city of Wuppertal were searching for one or more suspects in a stabbing that left one person dead and another wounded, though the case was being treated as a homicide and is not linked to terrorism, police said. 

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