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Sunday, January 10, 1999 Published at 23:12 GMT

World: Europe

Burnt churches and missing body parts

Scandinavia's churches have come under threat from suspected Satanists

By Scandinavia Correspondent Tony Samstag

A bizarre murder case involving teenage members of a Satanist cult, is making sensational headlines in Finland.

Teenage Satanism sounds like some new fad dreamed up by bored 16-year-olds over a couple of beers just to annoy their parents. But in Scandanavia, Satanism is becoming less and less of a joke.

In Norway alone during the past couple of years, young Satanists have been suspected, and one or two convicted, of burning down perhaps half a dozen of the nation's oldest and most beautiful churches.

Others with links to the fast-growing neo-Nazi movement have been involved in violent attacks on immigrants and refugees.

Gruesome murders

Now a murder case in neighbouring Finland has cast a new and even more sinister light on the Satanist movement.

Four young people - a 17-year-old girl and three men aged 16 and 23 - have confessed to killing one of their associates. Only a few of their victim's body parts have been found.

Helsinki police are investigating other unsolved murders in the vicinity, including that of a dog which was found dismembered in the same flat as the latest human victim.

The police say they are taking seriously the possibility that the murders were connected to cannibalistic rituals - a recurring theme on internet sites and in some of the heavy metal music favoured by Satanists.

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