Finland marks minute of silence for stabbing victims

Helsinki (AFP) –


Finland observed a minute of silence on Sunday for the victims of a stabbing attack that left two people dead in what is being investigated as the country's first-ever terror attack.

Another eight people were wounded in the stabbing spree on Friday in the southwestern port city of Turku.

The suspect, an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker, was interrogated on Sunday and is due to appear before a judge early Monday to be remanded in custody, police said.

At the market square where the attack happened, several hundred people gathered Sunday to hold a minute of silence at 10 am (0700 GMT).

Among the crowd were emergency workers, city officials and police who formed a ring around a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers.

Archbishop Kari Makinen, who heads Finland's Evangelical Lutheran Church, was also present.

"Peace and Love - No Violence Finland" read one note next to a bouquet of flowers.

The bells of Turku Cathedral, the country's largest church, rang out for 15 minutes before falling silent as the crowd bowed its head to remember the victims.

Also there was Hassan Zubier, a visiting British paramedic who was injured in the attack after coming to the aid of a woman who later died.

He arrived directly from hospital, attending the ceremony in a wheelchair.

"I wanted to show my respect to the victims," he told Swedish daily Aftonbladet before returning to hospital for further treatment.

Similar ceremonies were held across the country.

- Women targeted -

Finnish police said Saturday that the attacker deliberately targeted women.

His motive was not yet known.

All of the victims were women, including the dead, except for two men who tried to fend off the attacker.

An Italian, a Swede and a Briton were among the injured.

The suspect was shot and wounded by police minutes after he began his rampage on Friday afternoon.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it had interrogated the suspect on Sunday for the first time, but revealed no details of the outcome.

"We do not comment the contents at this point in time."

The suspect is in hospital with a gunshot wound to the thigh.

Police arrested four Moroccans linked to the suspect in a raid in the early hours of Saturday, but police said Sunday their involvement in the attack had "not yet been fully established."

The four were cooperating with police in interrogations, investigators said.

Officers also carried out searches in a Turku suburb but said no new arrests had been made.

Ahead of the minute's silence, police reconstructed the crime at the market square as part of their investigation.