1 dead, 8 in hospital after stabbings in Finland - report

Police said they arrested one person after a shootout and were hunting for other possible attackers.

Police officers stand next to a person lying on the pavement in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed on 18 August 2017. Picture: AFP.

HELSINKI - At least eight people have been hospitalised and one person is dead following the stabbings in the Finnish city of Turku, the city's hospital told local news agency STT.

Police said they arrested one person after a shootout and were hunting for other possible attackers. They warned people to stay away from the city as they reinforced security nationwide.

The Turun Sanomat newspaper reported that at least one person was killed in the attack. Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat said eight people had been taken to hospital following the stabbings, some of them are in critical condition.

Interior Minister Paula Risikko told Helsingin Sanomat she did not yet know whether the attack was related to terrorism.

Finland is traditionally peaceful but the Finnish Security Intelligence Service raised the terrorism threat level in June, saying it had become aware of more serious terrorism-related plans in Finland.

Witness Laura Laine said she was alerted by hearing a young woman screaming loudly at the corner of the market square.

“We saw a man at the square, he had a knife in his hand, and he was swinging it in the air. We understood he had stabbed someone,” she told Finnish broadcaster YLE.

Turku lies on Finland's southwest coast about 160km west of the capital Helsinki.

Turun Sanomat said police were inspecting departing trains and buses. They also reinforced security in Helsinki airport and streets as well as a train station in Vantaa.

Prime Minister Juha Sipila said: “The government is closely following the events in Turku and the ongoing police operation. The government will meet later today.”

The government has grown more concerned about attacks, partly after an Uzbek man killed four people in neighbouring Sweden in April by driving a hijacked truck into the crowd in central Stockholm.

On Thursday, a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds in Barcelona, Spain, killing 13 people and wounding scores of others.