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1ST LEAD Finnish police probing if stabber deliberately targeted women By Hannu Aaltonen and Lennart Simonsson, dpa

Europe
20.08.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Helsinki (dpa) - Finnish police said on Sunday that they were investigating whether the main suspect in a deadly stabbing spree in the south-western city of Turku had deliberately targeted women.

Eight of the 10 victims of the attack - which is being treated as terrorism - were women, including two fatalities.

"At this stage in the preliminary investigation, we believe that his actions appeared to be that he wanted to harm women," Crista Granroth of the National Bureau of Investigation told dpa.

She later confirmed that the suspect, an 18-year-old asylum seeker who arrived in 2016, was questioned Sunday at Turku University Hospital, where he is being treated after being shot on Friday.

Granroth said she would not comment on what the suspect, a Moroccan man, said or if he had stated any motive.

She added that police plan to submit on Monday a request to extend the detention of the main suspect. The request has to be filed before noon (0900 GMT) at the district court in Turku, she added.

Four other Moroccan nationals in custody have been questioned, police said, adding that they had cooperated. Police have not "fully established" their possible involvement in the attack.

Granroth said it was not clear if police would request the four remanded or not. Such a request would also be due by noon on Monday.

Raids were conducted in the Turku area as part of the probe, but no new arrests were made.

Police have designated the attack in Turku as murder in two cases, and eight cases of attempted murder with "terrorist intent."

Earlier Sunday, police had reconstructed the stabbing spree, drawing on video footage and witness accounts. They were also analysing surveillance camera footage, video clips and photos sent in by the public. A designated WhatsApp account has been opened for such files.

Granroth said police were grateful for the response from the public.

A national moment of silence was held at 10 am (0700 GMT), including at the Market Square in Turku where the attack began.

One of the two men injured in the attack, Hassan Zubier, attended the ceremony. He arrived in a wheelchair due to the injuries he sustained while trying to protect his partner and help a young woman fatally stabbed on the square.

"I have training, I can act, but I‘m not a hero," he told reporters. "I‘m a fellow human being who doesn‘t turn my head away, doesn‘t stand and film, doesn‘t stand and watch."

"I did the best I could based on my knowledge, but unfortunately it didn‘t succeed," Zubier added. 

The British national, who lives in Sweden, was on holiday in Turku when the attack took place. Zubier, who has received hundreds of supportive messages, has underlined that the attack was committed "by an individual."

He later returned to Turku University Hospital. The hospital said four people were still being treated there.

Three, including the main suspect, were in intensive care. All were in stable condition, hospital chief executive Leena Setala told dpa.

The hospital has stepped up security after several threatening phone calls.

In Turku, city officials, Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen, the bishop of Turku and members of the Muslim community joined a large crowd at the Market Square to lay flowers and light candles.

The church leaders then went to the cathedral for a service.

Finland‘s terror alert level has not been changed.

President Sauli Niinisto on Sunday held a news conference where he reiterated his condolences to the victims.

He also said there was need for a more measured debate on immigration and asylum issues, amid fears the attack could fuel xenophobia.

 

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