Sword Attack at School in Finland Leaves One Dead, 10 Injured

At 12:30 p.m. local time Tuesday, an attack at a college in Eastern Finland left one dead and 10 injured. The incident began when a student allegedly attacked a teacher with a sword, according to eyewitness accounts shared with Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.

The incident took place at Savo Vocational College, located in a shopping center near the town of Kuopio. A witness reported that a student had come to class and proceeded to take the sword out of a large bag and attack the teacher. The suspect was armed with a "sabre-type bladed weapon" and a gun, according to police. Witnesses also claimed the suspect used "some sort of small firebombs," AFP reported.

The attack sparked panic throughout the school. As the teacher attempted to flee the scene, students threw chairs at the attacker.

After attacking the teacher, the suspect is then said to have turned the blade on his fellow students. "He hit a girl in the neck with a sword and stabbed her in the stomach," a witness told the Keskisuomalainen newspaper.

Police have not yet identified the suspect, saying only that he is a 25-year-old student at Savo. Iltalehti quoted sources who described the suspect as "clean cut" and a "smart nerd."

Vocational school in Finland
One person was killed and 10 were injured in an attack at a vocational school adjacent to a shopping center in Finland on Tuesday. Jaako Vesterinen/Getty

"Officers used firearms during the situation. Police have detained one perpetrator. The injured have been evacuated," East Finland Police reported at a press conference following the attack. An officer was among those wounded but is said to be in stable condition.

Police fired their guns in responding to the sword attack, according to a CNN report. The suspect was injured and is now in custody.

AFP and Finnish TV channel MTV quoted Roosa Kokkonen, who works in a garage across from the vocational school. Kokkonen told reporters a bloodied teacher ran to her garage after escaping from the classroom. "While I was helping the teacher, I started hearing other shouts for help. Students were running away and into my garage," said Kokkonen.

The students described the weapon as "a long sword" and the attacker "started swinging the sword around the class," Kokkonen told another news agency, STT.

In 2017, Finland saw a total of 73 homicides out of a population of just over 5 million. The Nordic state was ranked the 14th safest country on Earth according to the Global Peace Index 2018.

Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne took to Twitter to address the country following the attack. "The violence at Savo Vocational College in Kuopio is shocking and completely unacceptable. I have discussed with the Director General of Police and the government is monitoring the situation closely. On behalf of myself and the entire Government, I extend my condolences to all the relatives," he wrote.

Police have yet to provide details on the status of the victims injured in the attack, but have confirmed that the murder victim was a woman. More details are expected to emerge at a press conference Wednesday.