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Police warn of online predators as suspected sex abuse cases uncovered in Oulu

Oulu police are cautioning young girls and their parents about online predators as nine men remain under suspicion of sexual abuse and rape of minors.

The Oulu police department is advising young girls and their parents to be on the lookout for sexual predators active on social media. According to police, foreign-background men with poor Finnish-language skills have tried to make online contact with "significantly younger" underaged girls in the Oulu area. Some of these contacts have led to suspicion of aggravated sexual abuse, the police said.

The Oulu police said it has recently been informed of dozens of cases where adult men try to lure young girls online. "That's the reason for our warning," said Detective Superintendent Markus Kiiskinen.

However, the warning mostly applies to one group of online predators and hopefully will not tarnish the reputation of all migrants, police added. "I hope this will not result in more racism. The police would like to emphasise that not all people with foreign backgrounds are dishonest or criminals," Kiiskinen said.

The police also said parents should take an interest in who their child spends time with both online and offline.

Three sex crime cases

Police are currently investigating three separate cases where migrant men are suspected of sexually abusing children in Oulu.

In one case, a group of men is suspected of sexually exploiting a girl between 10-14 years for a period of several months. The abuse took place in private residences in Oulu. Seven men have been arrested for assault, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and aggravated rape, however no charges have yet been laid.

The two other cases occurred during one day and took place outdoors in the Tuira neighbourhood of Oulu. The victims were also under 15 years of age, police said. These cases are being investigated as sexual abuse of a minor, and aggravated sexual abuse and rape of a child, respectively. Police have released the suspect in the first case, but continue to hold the other suspect in custody.

All suspects had arrived in Finland as refugees or asylum seekers, police indicated. Some are Finnish citizens and some have been granted refugee status, while the rest are awaiting asylum decisions. The suspects come from four different countries and are between 20 and 30 years of age, with the exception of one who is over 30.

In reaction to the news, Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen told tabloid Iltalehti that the criteria for granting Finnish citizenship should be tightened.