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Finland at "elevated" threat level after Barcelona attack

Finland's Security Intelligence Service (Supo) says the agency has not received any indication which would lead them to believe that Thursday's terror attacks in Spain had any links to individuals in Finland. The agency also says it has not raised Finland's threat assessment level following the attacks.

tall ships races turku
File photo of crowds alongside the Aura River in Turku during July's Tall Ships Races. Image: Kalle Mäkelä / Yle

Following the terror attacks in Spain on Thursday, the security service Supo said on Friday that Finland's threat assessment level remains at level two, meaning that according to the agency there continues to be an "elevated" risk of a terror attack in the country.

The security agency uses a four-tiered terror threat level assessment scale:

1. Low

2. Elevated

3. High

4. Severe

Pekka Hiltunen, a research specialist at Supo, says the agency uses three main factors in determining the level of danger posed to the country.

"Our assessment of the threat level is always based on three factors: the operative information we have, how radicalised elements view Finland, and current trends in terrorist incidents," Hiltunen explained.

"At the moment we do not see a change which would make it necessary for us to change our overall assessment," he said.

On the other hand - pointing to this week's terror attacks in Spain which claimed 13 lives and injured more than one hundred - Hiltunen says that the threat posed to Europe as a whole remains acute.

He said the terrorists in those incidents were aimed at targets similar to attacks in the recent past; such as places filled with tourists and large public events.

Hiltunen says that Spain has long had a relatively high threat level. In 2004, train bombings in Madrid killed 192 people.

Too early to draw conclusions

"The country has been attacked before. It's also been widely known that threats have been directed towards tourist destinations," he said.

Hiltunen said that people should not be making any far-reaching assumptions about the attacks at this time.

"We still don't know if the [attackers] were from two different groups - where one group's [attempted] attack was triggered by the other attack, or they may have attacked earlier than originally planned. Or they may have been coordinated attacks," he said.

The terror group IS has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Spain, but Hiltunen said that Spanish officials need to complete their investigation before any conclusion that the group was actually behind the attacks.

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