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Nine Dead in School Shooting

An 18-year-old student shot eight people dead at a school in Tuusula, southern Finland on Wednesday. According to Eero Hirvensalo, chief doctor at the Töölö Hospital in Helsinki, several others were injured. The gunman, 18-year old Pekka-Eric Auvinen, succumbed to a self-inflicted bullet wound late Wednesday evening.

 The victims included the school's principal and the school nurse, as well as five male students and one female student. All have now been identified. Police said that no shots were fired by officers.

The seige of the school ended after the perpetrator shot himself in the head. He was found by the police in a school hallway critically injured just before 4 PM on Wednesday. The young man was a senior at the school.

He had no criminal background, and came from a family of four where he was the oldest child. Just a few weeks ago, as a member of a shooting club, he received a gun permit for the 22 calibre target pistol used in the killings.

Twelve people were taken to hospitals in Hyvinkää and Järvenpää to be treated for injuries. Only one had a gunshot wound, which was not serious. All of the injured have been treated and released.

Some 460 pupils attend the school in the town of Jokela in the municipality of Tuusula, which serves as both a high school and middle school.

Crisis Centre Set Up

A crisis centre is in operation at the Jokela Church. Parents can contact the centre for information on students. Pupils' parents can also call the crisis centre number 09 417 2131. The Red Cross is also offering crisis services at the number 02 03 66 266. Aija Rinkinen, the head of education in Tuusula, can be contacted at 040 314 3410.

Prayer vigils are being held at different churches around the country, including a service at Helsinki's Lutheran Cathedral also attended by President Tarja Halonen.

After the service, she commented that the events in Jokela raised more questions than answers. Now was a time of mourning, she added. The President also praised the community spirit shown by both students and staff at the school in Jokela.

In accordance with a Ministry of the Interior recommendation, flags are being flown at half-mast across Finland on Thursday until sundown.

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