Finland: 2 dead, 6 in hospital after Turku stabbings

HELSINKI, Aug 18 (Reuters) - A man with a knife killed two people and wounded at least six in a stabbing rampage in a market square in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday, police said.

Police shot the suspected attacker in the leg and arrested him. They said they had yet to establish the identity of the man who appeared to be of foreign origin or his motive.

They warned people to stay away from the city and reinforced security nationwide, with increased patrols and more surveillance, in case more people were involved. People were allowed to return to the city center a few hours later.

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A picture taken with a smart phone shows the Market Square in Turku on August 18, 2017. Several people were stabbed in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku on Friday, police said after shooting and arresting a suspect. / AFP PHOTO / Lehtikuva / STR / Finland OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A video grab taken from Instagram on August 18, 2017 shows police officers standing next to a person lying on a stretcher in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed. Several people were stabbed in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku, police said after shooting and arresting a suspect. Public television station Yle reported that central Turku was on lockdown, with witnesses saying they had seen bodies lying on the ground in a busy area of the town. Businesses were shut. / AFP PHOTO / Jennifer KATSAMANTOU (Photo credit should read JENNIFER KATSAMANTOU/AFP/Getty Images)
Finnish police patrols on motorbike after stabbings in Turku, in Central Helsinki, Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Linda Manner via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND.
A video grab taken from Twitter on August 18, 2017 shows officials standing in a street in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed. Several people were stabbed in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku, police said after shooting and arresting a suspect. Public television station Yle reported that central Turku was on lockdown, with witnesses saying they had seen bodies lying on the ground in a busy area of the town. Businesses were shut. / AFP PHOTO / Juha Riihimaki (Photo credit should read JUHA RIIHIMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed Finnish policemen on guard at the Helsinki airport, after stabbings in Turku, in Vantaa, Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Vesa Moilanen via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND.
Finnish police patrol the streets, after stabbings in Turku, in Central Helsinki, Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Linda Manner via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND.
Finnish police patrols in front of the Cenral Railway Station in Helsinki on August 18, 2017. Finnish Police announced they will rise the readiness after stabbings in Turku. / AFP PHOTO / Lehtikuva / Linda Manner / Finland OUT (Photo credit should read LINDA MANNER/AFP/Getty Images)
A video grab taken from Twitter on August 18, 2017 shows officials standing in a street in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed. 'Police shot the suspected perpetrator in the legs,' police wrote on Twitter. 'The person has been arrested. We recommend that people avoid central Turku / AFP PHOTO / Juha Riihimaki (Photo credit should read JUHA RIIHIMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Finnish police patrol in front of the Central Railway Station, after stabbings in Turku, in Helsinki, Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Linda Manner via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND.
An armed policeman is seen at the Turku Market Square, where several people were stabbed, Turku, Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Roni Lehti via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND.
Police officers keep watch at Turku Market Square after several people were stabbed, in Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Roni Lehti via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS ?�THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FINLAND�OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS.
Rescue personnel have covered a stabbing victim's body at the Turku Market Square in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed on August 18, 2017. One person was killed and eight were injured in a stabbing spree in the Finnish city of Turku, a hospital director said, after police shot one suspect and warned several others could be at large. / AFP PHOTO / Lehtikuva / Roni Lehti / Finland OUT (Photo credit should read RONI LEHTI/AFP/Getty Images)
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"At this stage, there is only one suspect and we are investigating whether there are more people involved ... but it looks likely [he was alone]," said Markus Laine from the National Bureau of Investigation.

"At this stage, we do not investigate this [as a terrorism attack] but the possibility has not been ruled out," he told a news conference.

Interior Minister Paula Risikko said: "We have not been able to confirm the person's identity... we have been in contact with the immigration service as the person looks like a foreigner."

Eyewitnesses described the panic at the scene.

"A man walked towards the ice cream stand where I work, and he hit a woman three times. He started running, went past my kiosk, and he had a knife in his hand," Terttu Lehtinen told Reuters.

She said that some other men ran behind, apparently chasing him.

"We were sitting by the market square, just enjoying the afternoon. Suddenly people started screaming and yelling, they were hysterical," said another witness, who gave her name only as Reetta.

"We started running towards our car and, as we got there, my boyfriend said a woman had been stabbed several times in the neck," she told Reuters.

The six wounded were taken to the hospital, police said.

Prime Minister Juha Sipila said: "My deepest condolences to the families and close-ones of the Turku victims. The events of the day are shocking us all." He added that the government would meet later.

Finland is usually peaceful but the Security Intelligence Service raised the terrorism threat level in June, saying it had become aware of terrorism-related plans in Finland.

The government has grown more concerned about attacks, partly since an Uzbek man killed four people in neighboring Sweden in April by driving a hijacked truck into a crowd in central Stockholm.

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

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "It is with great concern that I have learnt of the violent attacks in Turku, Finland. While details are still emerging, we strongly condemn this unprovoked attack which comes only 24 hours after the horror that unfolded in Spain."

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Robin Pomeroy)

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