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A lone gunman shot dead three women, a local official and two journalists, in an attack in a small town in Finland, a country with one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world.
Police said on Sunday they believed the 23-year-old suspect, who was swiftly arrested after the night-time shooting on Saturday, acted alone and initial indications were that there was no political or extremist motive.
Investigators identified the victims as the head of the municipal council and two local reporters for the Uutisvuoksi newspaper, the STT news agency said.
A police statement said the women had died at the scene after being shot at close range, sustaining gunshot wounds to the head or torso.
The suspect, a local man, did not put up any resistance to his arrest and the weapon was found in the boot of his car.
The gun belonged to an unidentified person who had a hunting licence, police said, indicating that the inquiry would seek to establish how it was in the suspect’s possession.
Finland enjoys relatively low crime rates compared to other European nations but, with many Finns keen hunters, it has one of the biggest gun ownership rates in the world.
– Town in shock –
The violence shocked Imatra, a small town of 27,500 people in southeastern Finland which lies just a few kilometres (miles) from the Russian border.
Outside the restaurant where the shooting took place several makeshift memorials were set up with dozens of candles and other items including a rag doll in a woolly hat.
In a posting on its website, the town council said it had set up a counselling facility for residents affected by the bloodshed.
The suspect, who already has a record for violence, was interrogated by police on Sunday but his motive remained unclear.
“Nothing demonstrates that he came (specifically) to kill these three women,” Saku Tielinen, head of the investigation, told a news conference.
There was no initial indication that the triple murder was “linked to political issues or extremism”, police said, adding that they were not looking for any other suspects.
Imatra mayor Pertti Lintunen confirmed to STT that Tiina Wilen-Jappinen, the local council’s Social-Democrat leader who was in her early 50s, was among the victims.
The names of the two journalists, one of whom was of a similar age while the second was in her mid-30s, were not released.
“I’m very shocked. This is incomprehensible and it shouldn’t happen. Something like this is inexplicable,” said Lintunen.
Finland has seen several deadly shootings over the past decade, all by young men.
Figures in the Small Arms Survey, carried out by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, found Finland to be fourth in the civilian gun-ownership ranks, behind the United States, Yemen and Switzerland.
In November 2007, eight people were killed in a high school north of the capital Helsinki by an 18-year-old who later killed himself.
Less than a year later, a 22-year-old shot and killed 10 people, nine students and a teacher, in a classroom at a cooking school in the western city of Kauhajoki before also committing suicide.
And in May 2012, two people were killed and seven more wounded after a shooting near Helsinki by another 18-year-old. The attacker is currently serving life in prison.
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