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Prime Minister Meets With Students

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen travelled to Kauhajoki on Wednesday to meet with students at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality where Tuesday's shootings took place. The school's principal, Tapio Varmola, told YLE that nine students and one teacher died in the attack. According to Varmola, students at the vocational school in western Finland are extremely distraught and classes may resume Monday somewhere other than in the school's own facilities. Prime Minister Vanhanen said that he wanted to be in Kauhajoki for a gathering of students and the families of victims and to lend his support to them. He added that he wanted to show that the whole of the nation shares in their grief. City Manager Antti Rantakokko welcomed the moral support, but said that above all he wanted to hear discussion from Vanhanen about dealing with the continuing effects of the crisis. According to Rantakokko, Seinäjoki Vocational Education Centre's Kauhajoki School of Hospitality was closed on Wednesday, but the town's other schools were open. Support for locals has come from all around the country, including two officials and the municipal manager of Tuusula, where there was a school shooting last November, in which an 18-year-old student shot and killed eight people at his high school before killing himself. Crisis counsellors in schools Crisis counselling continued in schools on Wednesday with counsellors visiting schools to meet with both students and teachers. Lutheran Bishop of Lapua Simo Peura stated that it was not possible to say how long the special counselling would continue as full plans for services were being finalized on Wednesday. However, expects it to be a long-term process. According to Peura, 600 - 700 people attended a devotional service in Kauhajoki Church on Tuesday evening. Many stay after the service to talk with crises counsellors, and help was on offer throughout the night. Bishop Peura also said that the tragic event requires self-examination by the whole of the country. "This is a great burden for society to carry. We must ask what our values are." Church services nationwide

The Kauhajoki Church will be open for mourners all of Wednesday. A prayer service is scheduled for 7 PM and crisis counsellors will be on hand.

Many churches throughout the country will be holding devotional and prayer services in memory of the victims of the shooting on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The victims and their families will be remembered with the offering of prayers of intercession in all the nation's churches this coming Sunday.


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