An 18-year-old man has opened fire at a high school in southern Finland, killing at least seven people, after a video was posted on YouTube predicting a school massacre.
It was reported the gunman was one of the 400 pupils at Jokela High School.
Dr Eero Hirvensalo, the head of the medical response team on the scene, said: “At this moment its seven (deaths) or more.” One of those shot was the school principal.
At least 10 people have been injured.
Jokela High School is located in a town about 40 miles north of the Finnish capital Helsinki.
Kim Kiuru, a teacher at the school, said: “He (the gunman) was moving systematically through the school hallways, knocking on the doors and shooting through the doors”.
“It felt unreal, a pupil I have taught myself was running towards me, screaming, a pistol in his hand.”
Finnish media said the shooter revealed his plans in a YouTube posting before the attack.
The YouTube video, set to hardcore music, shows a still photo of a school that appears to be Jokela High School. The photo then fragments to reveal a red-tinted picture of a man pointing a gun at the camera. It has since been removed from the site.
The clip is titled “Jokela High School Massacre – 11/7/2007″ and was posted by a user called Sturmgeist89. “Sturmgeist” means storm spirit in German.
The person who posted the video was identified in the user profile as an 18-year-old man from Finland. The profile contained text calling for a “revolution against the system.”
Police surrounded the school and a city official announced shortly before 2pm that the siege was over. It was not clear whether the gunman had been apprehended or was still inside the building.
Junior Constable Olli Laine said earlier officers had evacuated students from the building, which houses both a middle and a high school.
Mr Kiuru, who was teaching a class when the shooting started, said he helped his pupils escape the building through the classroom windows.
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen described the situation as “extremely tragic” and said the government would hold an emergency meeting.
Despite having the third-largest per capita ratio of handgun ownership in the world, violent incidents are rare at Finnish schools.
There have been four stabbings at schools since 1999, but no one was killed in the attacks.
The last major attack in the country came in 2002 when a young man killed including himself and six others in a bomb blast at a shopping mall in Helsinki.
There are plenty of gun enthusiasts in Finland, in fact there are 56 privately owned weapons for every one hundred Finns. In the coming weeks expect calls for a revision of the country’s gun laws that allows such widespread gun ownership.
Exactly the same thing happened after Dunblane, although there was far fewer privately owned firearms in the UK there was still a severe clampdown on private gun ownership.
The Dunblane massacre was also carried out by a “lone gunman” and as a consequence there are now no legal privately owned firearms in the UK. And as with Dunblane – where there is now a 100-year secrecy order on documents relating to the massacre – expect an attempt to cover-up what really happened at Jokela High School.