A stabbing attack carried out Friday by an 18-year-old Moroccan migrant in Finland is being investigated by Finnish authorities as “a likely terrorist act,” officials said.
Speaking Saturday with reporters, Pekka Hiltunen, a spokeswoman for the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, told reporters the agency was investigating the suspect’s ties to the Islamic State group, as IS “has previously encouraged this kind of behavior.”
Police have not released the name of the suspect in the stabbing attack. On Friday, the asylum-seeker stabbed nine people in the small city of Turku, leaving two of the victims dead. He apparently was targeting women, in particular.
“We think that the attacker especially targeted women, and the men were wounded after coming to the defense of the women,” Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation superintendent, Christa Granroth, told reporters.
Four other Moroccan men were also detained by police in connection with the stabbing, though it is unclear what their relationship is to the attacker.
The attacker was shot in the leg by police shortly after the attack took place, and he is now in the hospital under police watch.
Security was heightened at Helsinki airport and at train stations in response to the stabbings.
The Security Intelligence Service raised the terrorism threat level in June after becoming aware of terror-related plots in the usually peaceful country.
Turku is located about 140 kilometers west of the capital of Helsinki.
The stabbings occurred as Europe remains on high alert while it grapples with a spate of terrorist attacks, including two this week alone. At least 14 people were killed and 100 others injured Thursday in Spain after drivers mowed down pedestrians in two separate attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in Barcelona.