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Gunman kills 5, himself, in Finland

ESPOO, Finland — A gunman dressed in black killed five people, four in a crowded shopping mall, before returning home and taking his own life on Thursday.

It was the third such massacre in Finland in about two years, and once again raised questions about gun control in a Nordic country where hunting is popular.

Police identified the killer as 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli, an ethnic Albanian immigrant from Kosovo who had been living for several years in Finland, and the national tragedy cast a pall over the nation's New Year's Eve celebrations.

Shkupolli killed his ex-girlfriend, a Finnish woman, at her home, and four employees of the Prisma grocery store at the Sello shopping mall in Espoo, 6 miles west of Helsinki, the capital.

The former girlfriend, who was 42, had worked at the Prisma store, and police superintendent Jukka Kaski said she had a restraining order imposed on Shkupolli.

After killing the four mall workers, the gunman fled the area and was at-large for several hours.

Police found his body at his Espoo home, and Kaski said the cause of death was suicide.

The Finnish news agency STT reported that Shkupolli was arrested for carrying an unlicensed handgun in 2003.

Finland, a nation of 5.3 million, has a long tradition of hunting and ranks among the top five nations in the world in civilian gun ownership. It has 1.6 million firearms in private hands.

In September 2008, a gunman killed nine fellow students and a teacher at a vocational college before shooting himself to death in the western town of Kauhajoki.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old student fatally shot eight people and himself at a high school in southern Finland.

Social workers and religious leaders have urged tighter gun laws, more vigilance of Internet sites and more social bonding in this small Nordic nation known for its high suicide rates, heavy drinking and domestic violence.

Gunman kills 5, himself, in Finland 12/31/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 11:14pm]
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