Wednesday's papers: Far right terror plot, Covid among kids and an approaching snow storm

Five men were remanded in custody last week on suspicion of planning a terror attack, the first time ever such charges have been made against a far right group in Finnish history.

Police revealed some of the items and images discovered during a preliminary investigation into a far right group's activities in the southwestern town of Kankaanpää. Image: Poliisi

Finland's largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat describes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) how a routine drug investigation led to a historic terrorism case with the arrest of the so-called "Kankaanpää Group".

The five men — aged between 23 and 26 — were remanded into custody last Friday on suspicion of making preparations for a terror attack, the first time ever such charges have been made against a far right group in Finnish legal history.

"It just shows how sharp criminal investigators need to be. Questions can lead to other questions, that then lead on to other things," Lead Investigator Toni Sjöblom told HS.

The suspects are all from in or around the small town in southwest Finland and formed a faction based around a "radical far-right ideology", according to HS, and they now face charges including aggravated firearms and explosives offences for terrorist purposes as well as committing an offence with terrorist intent.

In a separate op-ed, HS writes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the Kankaanpää case is exceptional but "not surprising" as intelligence services in Finland have been warning for many years about the growth of the far right.

"The rise of the extreme right is a harsh tale of this nation's spiritual condition," HS writes. "There is now a breeding ground for racism and nationalism."

Rising Covid cases in schools

Tampere-based Aamulehti asks (siirryt toiseen palveluun) when remote learning and quarantine measures will return to the city's schools as Covid infections are increasingly being detected in children under the age of 12.

The coronavirus situation in the region of Pirkanmaa, where Tampere is located, is currently at its worst level since the pandemic began, with daily case numbers hitting an all-time record high for the region on Tuesday.

Many parents in the city will have received notifications of possible exposures in their child's classroom via the school messaging service Wilma, but AL notes how it is "especially surprising" that classroom teaching continues even if several confirmed infections have been detected within a single class group.

Mari Kyllönen, Chief Education Inspector at the regional authority Avi, tells Aamulehti that the decision whether to switch an individual class or an entire school to remote learning is decided by the local municipal authority — and such decisions vary depending on the municipality.

"While in one municipality it might be considered that children who have sat next to each other or spent time during the school day are quarantined, in another municipality the quarantine order may extend to children who have not used a mask," Kyllönen explained.

The city's epidemiologist, Sirpa Räsänen, tells AL the city's authorities try to avoid quarantining children or switching entire classes to remote learning, even though infection rates in primary schools have risen significantly.

"The epidemic is now everywhere and primary schools don’t show up as places of particular risk despite the high rates of infection. It must also be remembered that children, almost without exception, often suffer from a very mild or asymptomatic disease," Räsänen said.

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

One of tabloid Iltalehti's most-read stories on Wednesday morning warns (siirryt toiseen palveluun) of good news and bad news for snow lovers.

The recent cold snap is expected to ease over Wednesday and into Thursday, IL writes, with heavy snow showers forecast to take its place.

In fact, up to 10 cm of snow is expected to fall around the capital region over the weekend, Ilkka Alanko of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) tells the tabloid.

But those dreaming of a white Christmas, especially in southern areas, may need to brace themselves: FMI predicts that temperatures will rise to an unseasonable high of 5 degrees Celsius on 17 December and a warm pressure front will keep temperatures warm and snow off the ground for Christmas week.