Finland stabbing: Moroccan suspect was an asylum seeker who targeted women, says police

Turku: The Moroccan man suspected of killing two people and injuring eight others in a stabbing attack in Finland was an asylum seeker who targeted women in his attack, police said on Saturday.

"We think that the attacker especially targeted women, and the men were wounded after coming to the defence of the women," superintendent Christa Granroth of Finland's National Bureau of Investigation told reporters.

Turku Market Square in Finland. AP

Turku Market Square in Finland. AP

Two women were killed in Friday's attack, and eight other people were injured. Among the eight were six women and two men, police said.

"One man was injured trying to help a victim and one man tried to stop the attacker," Granroth said.

Police shot and wounded the knife-wielding suspect, arresting him minutes after an afternoon stabbing rampage at a busy market square in Turku in southwestern Finland.

"The incidents were initially investigated as murders, but in light of further information received during the night, the offences include now murders with terrorist intent and their attempts," police said in a statement.

Police identified him only as an 18-year-old Moroccan national who had arrived in Finland in early 2016 and who had sought asylum.

Moroccans in Barcelona, Turku

It was not yet known whether the Turku attack was related to extremist Islamist circles.

"But if it is related, this is pretty much a continuation of the easy-to-use blatant attacks that Europe has seen," terrorism researcher Leena Malkki from the University of Helsinki told public broadcaster YLE.

Some of the suspects in the twin vehicle attacks in Spain on Thursday that killed 14 people and wounded around 100 others were also Moroccan citizens, but Malkki said there was as yet no reason to believe there was a connection between the Turku and Barcelona attacks.

"The fact that a person is from Morocco is not yet a clue" of a link between the attacks, she said.

"Many European countries are talking about the radicalisation of young Moroccan people," she added.

Media reports in Finland said police believed the suspect had picked his victims at random, but the NBI's Laine could not confirm that.

Police have said it was likely the suspect acted alone, but on Friday indicated they were looking for "other possible perpetrators."

Updated Date: Aug 19, 2017 18:42 PM

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