Page last updated at 23:18 GMT, Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Finland shocked at fatal shooting

By Sean Crowley

Children are evacuated from the Jokela school
Students at the Jokela school were the target of a vicious attack

The Finnish village of Jokela, where an 18-year-old gunman killed eight people and himself at a high school on Wednesday, was quiet as night fell, with friends and family of the dead and injured in deep shock.

Candles could be seen burning in many windows - a Finnish traditional mark of respect for the dead.

"This is a peaceful place, nothing like this has happened and nothing like this is to be expected either," Tuusula mayor Hannu Joensivu said.

Eight people were confirmed dead in the shooting in southern Finland - one day after a video predicting the mass killings was published on the internet.

The incident occurred at Jokela School in the municipality of Tuusula, about 30 miles (48km) north of the capital, Helsinki.

Finnish police said five male pupils, two females and the middle-aged female principal were shot dead when the 18-year-old pupil entered the building at around midday with a .22 calibre handgun and started shooting randomly.

The atmosphere at Helsinki's Toolo hospital was subdued on Wednesday evening as relatives and friends sought information about those involved in the deadly incident.

"This is the end of our world - the end of Finland," one distraught relative crying in the snow outside the hospital, said.

Tranquillity shattered

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen told reporters the shooting was an "extremely sad event".

Grab showing photo of Sturmgeist89 on YouTube
I'm a natural selector and will eliminate all those I see as unfit
Sturmgeist89 on YouTube

What is particularly chilling about this killing, rare indeed in peaceful Finland, is that a video was published on Tuesday on YouTube by a user going by the pseudonym Sturmgeist 89, celebrating the fact that he was about to launch an attack.

The video was called "The Jokela High School Massacre".

The video was set to a hard-driving song called "Stray Bullet", and showed a still photo of a low building that appeared to be Jokela High School.

During the video the photo dissolves into a picture of a man pointing a handgun at the camera.

Auvinen, described as holding extreme views, is also thought to be responsible for another video recently posted on You Tube called "Just testing my gun" where an individual dressed in black shoots a pistol at a piece of fruit in a snowy forest.

"I'm a natural selector and will eliminate all those I see as unfit," Sturmgeist89 wrote on You Tube recently.

The suspected gunman, Pekka-Erik Auvinen, who had no criminal record and was legally entitled to possess a firearm, was reportedly banned from You Tube for posting videos of a violent nature, but re-registered with the site recently under a different name.

Emergency measures

Finland's government met in an emergency session on Wednesday evening and is already talking of beefing up security in and around school premises.

There are no walls fences or gates around most Finnish schools and anyone can walk in to school buildings, particularly in smaller towns and cities.

A crisis centre has been set up to relay news to parents and the Finnish Red Cross has also set up a hotline for those needing help in dealing with the crisis.

Gun ownership per capita in Finland is one of the highest in the world, although incidents of this kind are extremely rare in a country that prides itself on very low levels of violent crime.

An attack by a young suicide bomber on a shopping mall in Helsinki in 2002, where seven people died, including the bomber, is the only such incident of this kind that has occurred in Finland in living memory.

video and audio news
Staff and students in shock after the shootings

In pictures: Finland school shooting
07 Nov 07 |  In Pictures

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