A British paramedic who was repeatedly stabbed while helping victims of a terrorist attack in Finland has denied being a hero, insisting he was merely following his training.
Hassan Zubier, 45, who was born in Dartford, Kent, came to the aid of a woman who had been stabbed several times during an attack in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday. “I am not a hero. I did what I was trained for. I did my best and more,” he told the BBC.
Zubier, who now lives in Sweden, was on holiday with his girlfriend when they were caught up in a violent attack by an 18-year-old Moroccan man during which women were targeted.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Zubier said: “I heard a really loud, heart-breaking scream. So I turned around and I saw one of the girls running … the first thing that I thought of was ‘OK, this is a terrorist attack’.”
He spotted a woman lying on the ground in the city’s central Market Square. “I saw the severe injuries she had,” he said.
He attempted to stop the bleeding, then the attacker came back. “He tried to stab me,” said Zubier. “I kicked him off. He ran away. He came back.
“Then I felt someone like hitting me in the back. People screamed. I was trying to save her life.”
The woman’s injuries were so severe, however, that she died in Zubier’s arms.
Another women also died in the attack, which left a further eight people, including Zubier, injured. He said he was not a hero, but a “human being who cares for other human beings”.
“It may sound silly, but that’s me. I would do it again, anytime, because the world is such a dark place and if we don’t help each other, who’s going to help us?
“At the same time, a girl lost her life. I think it’s so upsetting that I couldn’t save her. This is the world we live in at this time.”
Zubier sustained injuries to his back and arm. He told a Swedish paper: “My left hand is seriously injured. A nerve is injured, it is not certain that they can save the arm.”
The attacker was arrested after being shot by police. Four other Moroccan nationals have been arrested. Police said the attacker appeared to select women as targets. Both of those killed were women, as were six of the eight wounded, including one was reported to have been with her baby.
Turku, on the Baltic coast, is 90 miles west of Helsinki. Police in Finland are treating the attack as a terrorist incident.
Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipila, told a press conference that the country had experienced a terrorist attack for the first time.
Police said: “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.”
The UK embassy in Finland said it had “been in touch with the British national and offered consular support”. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “Our staff have offered support to a British man following an incident in Finland.”