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Scuffles, suspected assault at Helsinki election event

A day before Finland's parliamentary election, there was unrest at a campaign event in Helsinki.

Ihmisiä Narinkkatorilla
A woman was taken away by ambulance after being hit at a small right-wing party's election event. Image: Antti Pilke / Yle

Police say that a woman was struck in the head area at a nationalist party's campaign booth in central Helsinki on Saturday afternoon. The incident took place at a Finnish Nation First tent on Narinkkatori plaza in front of the Kamppi shopping centre.

Police say that the suspected assault was "a one-sided act" and that the victim was a member of the party's staff or supporters. The injured woman was taken away by ambulance for medical attention.

There were a number of police patrols on the scene, as there were several other campaign events going on at Narikkatori on the eve of Sunday's parliamentary election. Police said there had been unruly behaviour on Friday around the populist Finnish Nation First party's booth.

On Saturday police officers stood between the party's tent and members of the public, some of whom threw eggs at party's staffers and posters.

Aggression on campaign trail

Earlier in the week, police said they were looking into whether the party's anti-immigrant and anti-gay posters constitute criminal incitement.

Candidates across the political spectrum have stepped up security measures in the face of what they say has been an unusual level of aggression on the campaign trail this spring.

In late March, a man wearing emblems of a far-right group attempted to strike outgoing Blue Reform Party foreign minister and former Finns Party chair Timo Soini at an outdoor market in Vantaa, just north of the capital. The following day, Left Alliance candidate Suldaan Said Ahmed was attacked at Itäkeskus metro station in eastern Helsinki.

Finns go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new 200-member Parliament to serve for the next four years. Preliminary talks ahead of government formation negotiations are expected to begin next week among the parties garnering the most seats in the legislature.

Voting locales are open from 9am to 8pm. More than 36 percent of eligible voters have already cast ballots in advance, significantly more than in the 2015 election.

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