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11 killed in Finnish school shooting

world Updated: Sep 23, 2008 22:51 IST
11 killed in school shooting

A trainee chef went on a shooting rampage at a Finnish vocational school on Tuesday, mowing down at least 10 people before turning a weapon fatally on himself, police said.

Witnesses at the school in Kauhajoki in southwestern Finland described scenes of panic as the man, thought to be in his early 20s, prowled the corridors letting off round after round at helpless students.

“I heard the sound of shooting and hysterical girls’ voices. Then two girls came towards my room and said a weird man was shooting,” said Jukka Forsberg, the janitor of the school.

“I went to see and saw a guy leaving a big black bag in the corridor and going into classroom number three and closing the door.

“I looked through the window and he immediately shot at me. Then I called the emergency number,” he said, adding, “Thank God I was not hit! He fired at me but I was running zigzag. I ran for my life.”

The shooter — identified by police as a second-year culinary arts student Matti Juhani Saari — was clad in black clothes and a ski mask as he stalked the school.

After his shooting spree, the attacker turned a gun on himself and was taken to a hospital with head injuries. He later died of those wounds, police said.

“Now the number of dead is 10 and the shooter has died. That means 11 people have died,” police chief Urpo Lintala said.

Finnish Interior Minister Anne Holmlund said meanwhile that police had questioned the suspected shooter the day before the attack after he posted a video of himself at a shooting range on the Internet, but they had not deemed him enough of a threat to withdraw his gun license.

“Police were aware of this and spoke to him on Monday, September 22. However, the police officer on duty decided there was no need to terminate his gun license,” she said, adding that he held a “temporary license for a .22-caliber gun he obtained in 2008.”

Finland has one of the world’s highest gun ownership rates, ranking third behind the US and Yemen, said a study last year by Small Arms Survey of the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva.