Rooftop gunman kills two in Finland

HELSINKI Sat May 26, 2012 7:17am EDT

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - A gunman opened fire from a rooftop in a Finnish town centre in the early hours of Saturday, killing two people and wounding several others, police said.

An 18-year-old man wearing camouflage clothing was arrested after the shooting in Hyvinkaa, a small town 56 km (34 miles) north of the capital Helsinki.

The motive for the shooting was unclear. It followed a series of shooting sprees in Finland in recent years and came less than a year after anti-immigrant gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in a rampage in neighboring Norway.

The suspect had no criminal background and police said he likely acted alone.

Police could not comment on whether he knew his victims. Both of the dead were 18-years old. One was male and one female. Seven others were wounded. One, a policewoman, was in critical condition.

Media reports said some of the victims, including one of the dead, were members of a Finnish baseball team, Hyvinkaan Tahko, which had won a game on Friday.

The police's regional chief inspector, Timo Leppala, said the shootings were first reported before 2 a.m. The suspect fled but was detained a few hours later. Police said they found two rifles afterwards.

Finland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world and a series of mass shootings prompted the government to toughen its gun laws last June. The suspect in Saturday's case did not have a license, police said.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old student killed eight people at a high school near Helsinki before turning the weapon on himself. The following September, a 22 year-old killed 10 people in a small western town of Kauhajoki before shooting himself.

In December 2009, a man shot four people dead in a shopping mall in Espoo after knifing his ex-girlfriend to death. The man later killed himself.

(Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Matthew Tostevin)

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