An unusually large police van was observing the masses of people crowding the streets at Aleksanterinkatu in Helsinki center on Friday evening. The police had increased presence after a terror attack across the bay in Sweden in Central Stockholm, where a truck ran into a walking crowd of shoppers and hit the wall of Åhlens Mall on Friday afternoon at 14:53 local time. Four people were killed and 15 injured. According to the local media, the truck had been hijacked earlier and the driver is on the run.
President Sauli Niinistö expressed his condolences to the people of Stockholm. “I am shocked about the attack carried out in Stockholm. Innocent people have died and hurt in this insane act of terror. Every terror attack must be condemned but when an attack happens in the neighboring Nordic country it touches deeply. I express my condolences from the people of Finland and participate in the sorrow of the victims and all Swedes,” Niinistö said in a statement.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä expressed his shock at the events. “I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. An attack in the neighboring country and Sweden’s capital deeply touches us all,” he said. “The government and public authorities in Finland are following the situation closely,” Sipilä said in a bulletin.
Foreign Minister Timo Soini said that the attack is “an obvious attack of terror that is a hit against Sweden, a close neighboring country. I express my condolences to Sweden and the people of Sweden,” Soini said in a press conference on Friday evening.
According to Soini, there are several Finns at the area that has been blocked off by the Stockholm police. Many Finns in Stockholm have been unreachable by phone. “The Swedish mobile network has been overloaded,” Soini said.
Finnish tabloids have received several contacts from Finns who witnessed the events or by luck were able to avoid the truck from hitting them. “Suddenly people started running to the sides and I was gestured to get away. There was a noise and something sounding like gunshots and there was some crackling noise and I jumped to the edge of the sidewalk. A truck passed me with high speed,” said Niina Hyrsky, the press counselor at the Finland’s Sweden-embassy. “I looked behind me and saw people laying on the ground.”
Minister of Interior Paula Risikko said that she is in direct contact with the Swedish Security Service in order to stay updated. “Now we have to do our everything so that Finland is not facing a similar situation. In Helsinki, the police have increased surveillance,” Risikko said.
In Stockholm, a suspect in the attack has been apprehended. According to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, the man had said that he was guilty of the attack.