Online Finland's 2nd school attack in year leaves casualties

14:05, 23 September 2008
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`YouTube` gunman kills nine

Finland was rocked by its second school massacre in under a year today when a copycat "YouTube killer" went on a rampage in a remote western town, killing nine people at a catering and tourism college, The Times reported.

Police said that the gunman then tried to kill himself but survived and was rushed to Tampere University Hospital with a severe head wound.

The shooting bore disturbing echoes of another Finnish school massacre last November in which a student posted a "massacre manifesto" on the YouTube website only hours before killing eight people, including his headmistress.

Today`s attacker was named locally as 22-year-old Matti Saari, who had also used the site to post videos of himself shooting a Walther P22 handgun. The videos were taken down by the site`s administrators about two hours after the shooting began, although not until tens of thousands of people had visited his webpage.

The incident began at 11am (0800GMT) at the School of Hospitality in Kauhajoki, which is about 180 miles (300km) northwest of Helsinki.

Local reports said that the attacker, dressed in black, entered the school carrying a large bag only a few minutes before the shooting started.

The school janitor, Jukka Forsberg, told Finnish television that the gunman had taken aim at him, but he managed to escape unhurt. "Within a short space of time I heard several dozen rounds of shots, in other words it was an automatic pistol," he added.

Both the state broadcaster YLE and the TT news agency said that nine people were killed in the attack, citing police sources. There were some 200 students inside the building when the shooting started and panicked parents soon flocked to the school as the news broke.

The shootings occurred almost a year after Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18, shot dead eight people including the headmistress, at a high school in the southern town of Jokela, before shooting himself.

Auvinen had posted a "massacre manifesto" on YouTube in which he declared: "I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit."

The Finnish Government has since dropped its objection to a European Union directive setting a minimum age limit on firearm ownership, although ministers said that the decision was not linked to the Jokela shooting. With 1.6 million firearms in private hands, Finland has the world`s third highest rate of gun ownership, behind only the United States and Yemen.

Antti Rantakokko, the mayor of Kauhajoki, said that there were echoes of Jokela in today`s incident. "On the internet there is some information, there are analogies to the Jokela case," he said.

He appeared to be referring to the YouTube page on which was posted four videos filmed by a user calling himself "Mr Saari".The videos, between 20 and 32 seconds long, show a man dressed in black or dark colours, firing at a shooting range with a Walther P22 handgun.

The man – who last visited the site about an hour before the shootings started – posted under the username Wumpscut86 after an "electro-industrial" DJ from Bavaria known as Wumpscut.

He includes some of his lyrics on his profile: "And suddenly there was war and the mothers they screamed. For revenge and reprisals for another war."

The same man, identified as Matti Saari, also posted videos on another website, including one where he points at the camera and declares, in English, "You will die next", before firing his weapon repeatedly.

Times Online

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