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Finnish PM in knife attack scare

A man has confronted the Finnish prime minister with a knife at a rally, sending shockwaves through a country engaged in deep debate over austerity and about to take to the polls. The prime minister was not harmed.

A man who pulled out a knife while talking to the Finnish Prime Minister, Jyrki Katainen, at a political event was detained on Monday, according to the prime minister's office.

"Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen is unharmed after his security personnel detained a person who brought a knife to Katainen's campaign event in Turku," his office said in a statement.

Finnish police also released a statement which described how a male in his late twenties "caused a disturbance" at the rally at 4:40 pm (1340 GMT). "The man did not behave aggressively," it said.

Security guards were quick to act, moving in to protect the prime minister, who was unharmed in the incident, and rush him away from the scene.

Katainen, who has been in office since last June, had been conversing about fuel taxes and taxes payable by the elderly before the drama unfolded.

The incident comes days before Finnish citizens are due to vote in municipal elections, scheduled for Sunday. The prime minister's conservative and pro-euro National Coalition Party are narrow favorites, with polls predicting that it will win 20.6 percent of votes, in comparison with the competing Social Democrats, predicted to take 19.1 percent. The right wing True Finns are expected to rake in a robust 15.8 percent of votes.

sej/pfd (Reuters, AFP)