August 23, 2017 / 9:35 AM / 10 months ago

Finnish police doubt identity of main suspect in Turku stabbings

HELSINKI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Finnish police are uncertain whether they have the real identity of the main suspect detained on suspicion of killing two people in a stabbing last week, the lead investigator into Finland’s first suspected Islamist militant attack said on Wednesday.

Eight other people were wounded in the knife attack in the south-western coastal city of Turku on Aug. 18, which occurred a day after a van drove into crowds in Barcelona, Spain, killing 13 people and wounding scores of others. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Spain.

Finnish police have detained four men in connection with the Turku killings and an international arrest warrant has been issued for a fifth.

The main suspect who is in custody has been named as 18-year-old Moroccan Abderrahman Mechkah, who on Tuesday told a court he was responsible for the attack.

But Detective Superintendent Markus Laine of the National Bureau of Investigation told Reuters it was possible this was a false identity.

“We have reasons to suspect that he has given wrong information to authorities when coming to the country,” Laine said.

The man identified as Mechkah arrived in Finland in 2016 and he had earlier spent time in Germany, according to authorities.

“We can’t comment yet on his motives... he has not been willing to answer all questions,” Laine said.

In Spain, police said all members of a 12-man cell they believe to have been responsible for the Barcelona attack had been either killed or arrested in the days after. (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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