HELSINKI (Reuters) - A male student armed with a sword killed a woman and wounded nine others in an attack at a college in eastern Finland on Tuesday which the prime minister described as “shocking”.
The suspected attacker, who was in his mid-twenties, used “a sabre-type of bladed weapon”, chief inspector Mikko Lyytinen said in the city of Kuopio where the attack took place around noon (0900 GMT). The motive for the attack was not clear.
A police spokesman put the toll at one dead and 10 wounded, including the suspect. He was seriously hurt when police opened fire on him at the college, located in a shopping centre, Lyytinen said.
The suspect was caught eight minutes after the alarm was raised and the wounded were taken to Kuopio University Hospital.
The hospital’s chief physician, Antti Hedman, told Finland’s public broadcaster YLE that the victims were aged between 15 and 50, and more than half were female. Two were seriously hurt.
“Eight of the patients were less seriously injured, mostly with wounds from defending themselves,” Hedman said.
Police did not name the suspected attacker, but said he was a male Finnish citizen born in 1994.
In addition to the sword, he carried a gun but it remained unclear whether he used it, police said.
At the time of the attack, there was also a small, fire on the shopping centre’s second floor that had been deliberately lit but police did not say whether the attacker had started it.
Police said they found unused petrol bombs when they raided his apartment in the afternoon.
Finland Prime Minister Antti Rinne condemned the attack.
“The act of violence at Savo Vocational College in Kuopio is shocking and we utterly condemn it,” Rinne said on Twitter. “I have had discussions with top police officers and the government is following the situation closely.”
Finnish newspaper Iltalehti quoted a witness as saying that a student had come to class with a large bag, taken out a sword and attacked a teacher.
The Nordic country, which is considered relatively safe with low crime levels, has a grim history of deadly school attacks in the past 12 years.
In 2007, a student at the Jokela High School shot eight people dead before killing himself. In 2008, a 22-year-old student at a vocational school in Kauhajoki shot 10 people dead before committing suicide.
In neighbouring Sweden, a masked swordsman killed a teaching assistant and a pupil in an attack in 2015 on a school in Trollhattan.
All the victims in the Swedish attack had immigrant backgrounds and the police said the 21-year-old killer, who was shot dead, was driven by racist motives.
Reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki, Simon Johnson, Anna Ringstrom, Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard in Stockholm, Tarmo Virki in Tallinn; Gdansk newsroom; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Ed Osmond and Timothy Heritage