Finnish police arrest 2 more suspects in knife rampage

AP News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2017 11:10 AM
Finnish police arrest 2 more suspects in knife rampage

HELSINKI (AP) — Police in Finland on Wednesday arrested two more suspects in connection with last week's stabbings that killed two people and wounded eight in a knife rampage in the southwestern city of Turku, authorities said.

Police said they detained the two men on suspicion "of preparation of an offense to be committed with terrorist intent," bringing the total number of arrests to six. On Tuesday, a regional court ordered that the main suspect — an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum-seeker — be detained on suspicion of terrorist crimes, including two counts of murder and eight counts of attempted murder. Three alleged accomplices — all believed to be Moroccan — were ordered to be held on suspicion they helped plan the attack.

The main suspect, who has acknowledged Friday's stabbings but denies murder, was named as Abderrahman Mechkah although police said they believe he is using a false identity. Investigators have said they are exploring possible links to last week's extremist attacks in Spain. Detective Superintendent Markus Laine told national broadcaster YLE Wednesday that there were signs he had become "radicalized" but declined to give any details.

He was shot in the thigh by police during the knife rampage in Turku, 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of the Finnish capital, Helsinki, and was treated for his wounds at a local hospital before a planned move to a prison hospital, police said.

The nationality of the new suspects wasn't clear, police said, because they gave contradicting information. They told Finnish officials they were Algerian citizens but had earlier told Swedish authorities that they were from Morocco. It was unclear when they were in Sweden.

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The main suspect arrived in Finland last year, but his application for asylum was denied, police said. Earlier, the German Interior Ministry said the man entered Germany at the end of 2015, leaving there in early 2016. He didn't apply for asylum in Germany, the ministry said.

Investigators and the main suspect's lawyer, Kaarle Gummerus, have said they weren't aware of a motive for the attack in which most of the victims were women.