VANTAA, Finland (AP) -- A bomb exploded in a busy suburban shopping mall near where a clown was inflating balloons for children, killing seven people and injuring 59 people, police said Saturday.
The Friday night explosion in one of Finland's largest malls caused parts of its glass-covered construction to collapse, officials said. Nine children were among the injured.
"The bomb exploded on the ground floor of the mall," said Chief Superintendent Seppo Kujala of the Vantaa police.
Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen said the government was investigating whether the attack may have been linked to terrorism.
"It is an act of terror in a sense -- a bomb explosion in a shopping center in itself -- but whether it's a question of an organized group behind a terrorist organization ... we are looking into that," he said.
"Nothing like this has happened in Finland before," Lipponen said. "The information we have suggests that the explosives were constructed so as to cause the largest possible damage."
The government met Saturday in an emergency session to discuss the bombing. There were no details about the session itself.
As many as 2,000 people were inside the three-story Myyrmanni mall in Vantaa, about nine miles north of the capital, Helsinki, when the blast happened.
"There was a terrible explosion. My ears were completely blocked up," said bystander Orvokki Neuvonen. "Glass fell down from the third floor and children and parents were in total panic when they saw the injured people."
"Children were weeping and screaming in panic. Mothers were screaming. Among the shattered glass were injured and unconscious people," she said.
Police said no one had been detained, but several people were being questioned.
"The amount of explosives used was such that it could easily be carried around unobserved," said Jari Liukku, chief superintendent of the National Bureau of Investigation. He declined to give more details.
In July, a car bomb exploded at a traffic light in central Helsinki killing one person and injuring the assailant who triggered the bomb in a nearby vehicle. Police said that attack was connected to crime gangs.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.