Posted by Lilly from ? (188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, December 11, 2002 at 1:04PM :
In Reply to: Vivat Pax Americana! posted by Tony from ? (184.108.40.206) on Wednesday, December 11, 2002 at 12:23PM :
: The discussion turned to the horrific Islamic terrorist bombings in Bali and
xxx There was no Islamic terrorist bombing ni Finland! He's referring to the bombing that occurred in Vantaa on October 11, 2002. It was a Finn who did it. See below.
Helsingin Sanomat International Edition
Metro - Friday 11.10.2002
Saturday updated 12.00 and 16.30: Bomb confirmed as cause for shopping mall blast; death toll rises to seven in "act of terror"; police say suspect was among the victims
Three injured victims in critical condition; government meets to discuss incident; police state suspect among victims (see update)
The powerful explosion that shook a shopping mall in Vantaa on Friday evening, leaving seven dead and dozens injured, has been shown to be caused by a bomb. Finland's Minister of the Interior Ville Itälä (National Coalition) confirmed the fact at a press conference on Saturday morning.
Initial suggestions that the disaster was due to exploding gas cylinders or some other accidental cause were ruled out by police technical investigations carried out overnight at the site. Even as the injured were being rushed to hospital, certain factors emerged that pointed to the possibility of a deliberate act. Representatives of the shopping mall had stated immediately that there were no potentially explosive elements in the building's technical infrastructure.
Police spokesmen stated at their briefing that the device used was of a size that allowed it to be carried unnoticed into the crowded concourse of the shopping mall. Further details were withheld as the police investigation continues.
Five people were killed instantly at the scene of the explosion, and overnight a further two of the gravely injured died in hospital. Doctors say that the death toll could rise still further, as at least three of those now in care are in a very critical condition.
One male amongst those pronounced dead remains unidentified. Police have not ruled out the possibility that this man could have been responsible for placing the bomb. An appeal has been made for information that might help to identify the unknown man.
As we reported in our story from Friday evening, while details of the tragedy were still unfolding, a powerful explosion shook a crowded shopping mall in the Myyrmäki suburb of Vantaa, just north of the Finnish capital, at around 19.35. The area was at this time packed with shoppers and with parents and children attending a performance by a circus clown.
Part of the glass roof of the 130-store mall came down, and many of the dead and injured suffered both from the blast and from falling glass and debris. Eye-witnesses spoke of carnage and panic at the scene, as the main concourse filled with dust and debris.
All of the more than 1,000 people inside the mall at the time were got outside by 21.00. The building was badly damaged over an area of several hundred square metres, but is not believed to be in any danger of collapse.
Around two dozen ambulances and a Medi-Heli helicopter raced to the scene, and hospitals in the area were placed on full alert. In the course of the night a number of emergency operations were carried out.
"This is the largest civilian disaster to affect the Greater Helsinki area since the war", commented Itälä on Saturday morning, as he promised a thorough investigation to find the culprit.
In all, hospitals as far afield as Hyvinkää accepted 63 patients as a result of the incident. Eighteen were operated on or are currently in the operating theatre. A further five are still awaiting surgery. As noted above, several children were among the dead and injured, and fifteen children remain in hospital care.
Nobody has come forward to claim responsibility for the blast, and police made no statement this morning on whether they have a possible motive.
The Myyrmanni shopping mall, Finland's third-largest such precinct, will remain closed at least over the weekend, as police investigations continue. The case passed to the National Bureau of Investigation, Finland's central criminal police, immediately upon the confirmation that the blast was not an accident.
A further police press briefing is scheduled for later today, when the government will also meet in emergency session to discuss the incident.
Speaking in a television programme this morning, Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (Social Democrat) expressed his condolences for the relatives and victims on behalf of the government, and referred to the crime as unprecedented in Finnish experience.
He noted that police technical evidence suggested the bomb was designed to go off with the maximum loss of life.
Finland briefly crossed the international news thresholds earlier this year when a makeshift car-bomb exploded in downtown Helsinki. This was apparently a gangland score-settling exercise, but this latest incident, and the massive human damage caused, is on a completely different plane.
Regardless of whether an organised group or a crazed individual was behind the mall blast, which was described bluntly by Lipponen as "an act of terror", it is certain to shock residents of a country that has hitherto remained mercifully free of such violence.
Crisis hotlines have been set up for persons seeking information about relatives, and a local crisis centre has been established in a Myyrmäki school.
FURTHER UPDATE AT 16.00: Police announce bombing suspect is 20-year-old Finnish student, numbered among victims
A police press briefing held at 16.00 on Saturday revealed that the seventh victim (see above) had been identified as a Finnish student from the Greater Helsinki area, apparently around 20 years of age. Preliminary evidence would appear to suggest that the chemistry student, who died instantly, was responsible for the explosion.
The man has no criminal record, and no motive has as yet been put forward for his actions, nor would police be drawn on the likelihood that he acted alone. The possibility that others might be involved was not ruled out.
In all respects the police were reluctant to comment or give details at this relatively early stage of an investigation, save to confirm previous press speculation that the explosive device had also contained buckshot or other pellets. A number of those injured were reportedly operated on for the removal of pellets as well as shrapnel fragments.
Technical and criminal investigations are still ongoing, and further briefings have been scheduled for later today and tomorrow morning, by which time it is hoped that DNA assays may shed further light on the case.
The Vantaa Chief of Police Seppo Kujala responded to some early criticisms that rescue services had been slow to arrive by quashing the claims entirely.
He stated that the first police and ambulance units were on the scene within 3 to 5 minutes, and that after an initially chaotic situation in which large numbers of people attempting to escape the building had to be shepherded by limited police resources, the situation was brought under control rapidly. All the injured were out of the mall and en route to hospitals in the region within an hour.
Hospital spokesmen have also praised the ordered manner in which doctors and paramedics at the scene despatched victims to different hospitals, and it has been said that the organised flow of patients meant that at least three lives could be saved. A number of those injured are still in critical condition.
Police also confirmed that damage to the actual structure of the building was not critical, and there is no imminent danger of collapse. The Myyrmanni shopping mall will nevertheless remain closed for several days as police complete their investigations, and before a decision is made on repairs prior to full re-opening.
A memorial service for victims was held in Myyrmäki on Saturday afternoon. The service was aso attended by President Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, and the Minister of the Interior Ville Itälä.
According to a report on the Helsingin Sanomat Finnish web-pages, the church, which was filled, contained a large number of young people, including members of a local figure-skating club. One of the club's team died in the explosion, and a second was among the injured. At least one child is known to have been killed in the blast.
We shall continue to update this report at intervals during the course of the weekend. WLM 12.10.2002, 17.10
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