Until 2002, the best-known explosion in Finland occurred on April 13th, 1976, when an ammunition factory in Lapua, owned by the government, blew up, killing 40 workers and leaving 76 children fatherless. This was, however, an accident and not a criminal bombing. Criminal bombings are a phenomenon of the 1990s in Finland. Particularly, bombings have only claimed casualties, to my knowledge, during the past five years.
The potential for criminal bombings is huge. The National Bureau of Investigation reports that hundreds of kilograms of explosives are stolen in Finland each year. Typically they are taken from construction sites and road works. Stealing explosives is made easy by the fact that they are usually stored, due to safety reasons, in remote locations that cannot be guarded around the clock.
Bombers angry at the courts and the police
- In January 1994, a bomb was detonated in the National Bureau of Investigation's unfinished building in Vantaa.
- Two months later, the courthouse registry office in Karhula was bombed.
- Next month, the courthouse in Loviisa was bombed.
- August 1995, the police station in Pasila, Helsinki was damaged by a car bomb.
- A bomb was detonated in front of the Pietarsaari police station in September 1995. (Helsingin Sanomat claims this was in October.)
- February 1996 saw an attempt to blow up the police building in Pyhtää.
- In 1999, a person unsatisfied with the results of an inheritance case blew himself up in the Hamina police and court building, killing himself and injuring seven others.
- In addition, tax offices have been bombed numerous times without casualties.
In November 1999, an old man carrying explosives in his bag to kill or intimidate a local acquaintance was mutilated and killed when the explosives accidentally blew up in the center of Pietarsaari, injuring a bystander.
The Kamppi car bomb
A car bomb was detonated in front of a hotel in Kamppi, at the center of Helsinki, on July 16th, 2002, killing the driver and wounding the bomber, who was following in his own car. The bomber was caught and convicted. The victim was the former husband of the bomber's female friend, who was prosecuted for instigating the crime. She denied all responsibility.
Update: Three men received life sentences for this bombing on February 2nd, 2004. (They will appeal to the supreme court.) The woman was cleared of all charges due to insufficient evidence.
Another update: In June 2005, the supreme court upheld all three life sentences, so the men will have to wait until the President pardons them (this will probably happen before 2017).
Finland was profoundly shocked on October 11th, 2002, by a sudden explosion in the Myyrmanni shopping center in Vantaa, just north of Helsinki. This explosion killed six innocent bystanders, including a child, and the person who committed this crime, Petri Gerdt, a 19-year-old chemistry student who had been building explosives of various size for quite some time. The bomb consisted of a mixture of nitromethane and ammonium nitrate in a cylindrical container, coupled with thousands of 4.5 mm steel and lead pellets. The detonator was also homemade. Residue discovered at the site suggests that a timer was attached, but it is not known whether the act was intended as a suicide bombing. Shrapnel and pellets were found 50 metres from where the bomb was detonated. Nearly 200 people were wounded in the blast.
This was an unprecedented atrocity in Finland, a relatively crime-free country. The Myyrmanni bombing focused public attention on the internet, as Gerdt had studied and discussed the chemistry and construction of explosive devices on WWW boards. At least one of his internet acquaintances was detained by the police for questioning. All were shocked at his act, although he had repeatedly suggested his intentions.
Recent bomb-related incidents
A 37-year-old man took trouble with his female friend rather seriously, fortifying himself in an apartment in Jyväskylä on September 4th, 2003. The police and military surrounded the area and discussed the situation with the man, who was equipped with some 2.5 kilograms of dynamite. He merely asked to talk to his female friend. They talked on the phone, until he suddenly blew himself and the apartment up. (I wonder what she said?)
In addition, he had mined a nearby summer cabin with explosives connected to the front door. They were triggered in the afternoon of the following day, blowing the cabin to splinters and wounding a man related to the bomber.
Also on Friday, at about the same time as the cabin blew up, a man sitting in his car in the center of the city of Vaasa with a bomb in his lap was killed in an explosion. As of yet, the man's identity is not known, although he is suspected to be the car's owner, and it is not known whether this was a suicide. Some bystanders were injured, but not seriously.
And on Saturday, explosives were discovered in the yard of a house in Turku. Police evacuated the area and recovered the explosives.
Since I wrote this writeup, at least one explosion has occurred in a public place with no casualties. Also, cops keep finding various quantities of explosives, such as the 15 kilograms of dynamite that were discovered in Mikkeli and detonated by the police. The dynamite was apparently abandoned or forgotten by someone fifty years ago.
Courthouse and police station bombings:http://www.kouvolansanomat.fi/arkisto/vanhat/2001/05/19/uutiset/juttu1/sivu.html
Kamppi car bombing: http://www.iltalehti.fi/light/2003/04/15/643545_uu.shtml
Recent incidents: Helsingin Sanomat