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Day of mourning in Finland after school shooting death

Members of Parliament observe a minute's silence as they pay their respects for the victims of the school shooting. — AFP
Members of Parliament observe a minute's silence as they pay their respects for the victims of the school shooting. — AFP

HELSINKI: Flags in Finland flew at half-mast on Wednesday as the country mourned the killing of a 12-year-old by a classmate who opened fire and seriously injured two others.

All public buildings and institutions lowered their flags at 8:00 am on Wednesday, and the interior ministry encouraged the whole country to participate in the day of grieving.

On Tuesday morning, a 12-year-old Finnish boy opened fire at his school in Vantaa, Finland's fourth-largest city.

According to Finnish broadcaster MTV Uutiset, the boy wore a mask and noise-cancelling headphones when he carried out the shooting.

The child who was killed, a Finnish boy also aged 12, died at the scene, and the suspect had already fled the school by the time police arrived.

The police opened an investigation into murder and attempted murder on Tuesday.

The suspect, who was carrying a gun, was arrested in a "calm manner" within an hour of the shooting and admitted to being the shooter in a preliminary interrogation.

Police said they were looking to establish a motive for the crime, as well as conducting hearings and technical examinations of the crime scene on Wednesday.

"The police have a preliminary idea of the motive, but for investigative reasons it cannot yet be confirmed," the police said in a statement on Wednesday morning, adding that the suspect had admitted to the crime on Tuesday.

As the suspect is under 15 years old, he can not be held criminally responsible in Finland, and would not be incarcerated.

Two injured girls remain in hospital, according to police.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said on Tuesday that the incident was "deeply upsetting", adding that his thoughts were with the victims, their parents, other pupils and teachers.

"In the coming days, we must be present for the children and young people, offer them words of comfort and show them that we care about them," he said in a statement.

"They may be scared or have questions. It is important that we talk about the incident in our homes."

Elina Pekkarinen, Finland's Children's Rights Ombudsman, told Finnish news agency STT on Tuesday, that "for years (we have been repeating) that we need to take violence between children in society seriously". Acts of violence, particularly amongst children under 15 years old, have been on the rise for several years, she added. — AFP

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