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Police probe attack on foreign-background election candidate in Helsinki

Police are asking for public help in finding a man who allegedly assaulted a Left Alliance candidate on Monday.

kaupunginvaltuutettu Suldaan Said Ahmed (vas.)
Helsinki city councillor Suldaan Said Ahmed Image: Mårten Lampén / Yle

Helsinki police said on Monday that they are investigating an attack on a foreign-background election candidate in the capital.

Suldaan Said Ahmed, who is running for Parliament as a Left Alliance candidate, said he was assaulted at the Itäkeskus metro station on Monday afternoon.

According to Said Ahmed, he was waiting for a train when a Finnish man in his forties approached him, tore leaflets from his hand, hit him in the chest and called him an infidel and a pedophile.

"You shouldn’t even dream of getting into Parliament," the man yelled, Said Ahmed said on his Twitter account.

Women nearby tried to calm down the man, Said Ahmed added, but he verbally abused them as well.

Said Ahmed, who is currently a member of the Helsinki City Council, said he called the police who arrived swiftly. However, the police were not able to capture the suspect who had fled by bicycle.

"Investigation still in early stages"

Helsinki Police said on Twitter it is investigating the incident as an assault and defamation.

"The investigation is still in its early stages," Inspector Jari Illukka of Helsinki Police told Yle on Tuesday.

Police said that two men followed Said Ahmed onto a Metro train after the initial altercation at around 1:30 pm, continuing to insult him until they all disembarked in the eastern Helsinki suburb of Kontula. There the candidate met a police patrol, who tried unsuccessfully to catch the alleged harasser. Police searched the area but were unable to find him.

They are still unsure of the man's identity, or whether the incidents were captured on any surveillance cameras or seen by any eyewitnesses. Officials are asking the public to come forth with any pertinent information.

A day earlier, a man attempted to strike Foreign Minister Timo Soini at an election rally in Vantaa.

4:26pm Tuesday: Updated with latest police statements.

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