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Police: Sabre-wielding Kuopio suspect a Finnish student with no criminal record

Hospital and police officials have revealed more details about Tuesday's fatal school attack in eastern Finland.

Våldsdådet skedde i Savolax yrkesinstituts lokaler i köpcentret Herman i Kuopio.
First responders outside the Herman shopping mall, where the classrooms are located. Image: Sami Takkinen / Yle

Police in the eastern city of Kuopio say that the man suspected of a fatal attack on Tuesday is a "native Finnish citizen" born in 1994. He was registered as a student at Savo Vocational College, where the incident took place shortly after noon. The suspect has no previous criminal record but now faces a wide range of charges.

One woman died in the attack. Ten people were injured, two of them seriously – including the suspect, who was shot by police. One of those hurt was a police officer, whose injuries were described as light. The other victims were students and staff of the school. None of their injuries were considered life-threatening.

Most victims female

The Chief Medical Officer of Kuopio University Hospital, Antti Hedman, says that the injured are aged 15-50 and are mostly women. Two had already been released by Tuesday evening.

Story continues after photo

Kuopion yliopistollinen sairaala.
Kuopio University Hospital Image: Timo Hartikainen / AOP

At a press conference on Tuesday evening, police said they had yet not been able to interview the suspect because he was in intensive care. So far the motive for the assault remains unclear. So far authorities do not know of any accomplices.

Law enforcement and hospital officials say the victims suffered cuts and slash wounds from a sabre-like weapon. The man was also carrying a gun, but police said they did not know whether he fired it. There was likewise no information yet as to whether he had licence for gun or was intoxicated.

Officers fired two shots when apprehending him. A routine investigation of the police use of deadly force has been launched separately.

'Molotov cocktails' found at suspect's home

The suspect also started a small fire at the scene, which was quickly extinguished.

Police say they found "carefully constructed" Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices at his flat in the city's Särkiniemi neighbourhood. They also removed electronic devices for analysis.

The school is located in a commercial complex about two kilometres from the city centre.

According to Heikki Helve, director of the Savo Consortium for Education, more than 300 students were on the premises at the time of the assault. Most were aged 16-19, but some were older adult students. Some 30 staff members were on hand. According to eyewitnesses, a female staff member was slashed on her hand.

At the press conference, police noted that Finland's school safety and evacuation guidelines were updated after a 2008 shooting at a vocational school in Kauhajoki, western Finland. That incident left 11 people dead including the assailant.

The case was been turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which will be responsible for releasing further information about it.

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