Police in Finland believe a stabbing in the city of Turku that killed two people and wounded eight others was a terrorist attack. Investigators say the attacker, who was shot in the leg by police and taken into custody, was an 18-year-old Moroccan citizen who appeared to target women specifically. He remains in intensive care.

The two victims killed in the attack on Friday 18 August were both Finnish, police added. Among those injured were two Swedes and an Italian. Police said in a statement on Saturday: "The act had been investigated as murder, but during the night we received additional information which indicates that the criminal offences are now terrorist killings."

Police have not released the identity of the suspect in custody, though they said he came to Finland as an asylum seeker in 2016. The country has no past experience of Islamic terrorism. The attack happened in the Puutori/Market Square area of Turku just after 4pm local time, with police receiving reports of a man attacking passers-by with a knife.

He was shot three minutes after the alarm was raised, police said. Finnish police arrested five people in a Turku apartment on Friday night as part of their investigation. "There was a raid and we have now six suspects in custody, the main suspect and five others," said Det Supt Markus Laine of Finland's National Bureau of Investigation.

"We are investigating the role of these five other people but we are not sure yet if they had anything to do with [the attack] ... We will interrogate them, after that we can tell you more. But they had been in contact with the main suspect."

"It seems that the suspect chose women as his targets, because the men who were wounded were injured when they tried to help, or prevent the attacks," said Crista Granroth of the National Bureau of Investigation, according to the BBC. She said six of the eight injured were women.

The attack saw the centre of Turku cordoned off and increased security at Finland's airports and train stations. It comes after the country raised it's terror threat level from "low" to "elevated" in June, the second of four levels, due to increased risk of attack by Islamic State.

Turku stabbing
Emergency services at the scene after several people were stabbed in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku Getty/STR/Contributor