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FILE PHOTO - People mourn next to memorial candles and flowers at the Market Square in Turku, Finland August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Tuomas Forsell


HELSINKI (Reuters) - An increasing number of Finns want the government to get tougher on immigration after last week's knife attack by a Moroccan asylum seeker that killed two women and wounded eight other people, an opinion poll showed on Thursday.

Friday's stabbings in the city of Turku have been treated as the first suspected Islamist militant attack in Finland, which boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the world. However, the main suspected has denied terrorism was a motive.

Some 58 percent of Finns want the government to tighten immigration policy and give police and other officials extra powers to prevent future attacks, according to the poll, which was taken after the attack and published by the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.

A similar poll in April showed only 40 percent supported stricter policies.

Finnish police have detained four men and arrested two in connection with the Turku killings. An international arrest warrant has been issued for a fifth.

The main suspect, who is in custody, has been named as Abderrahman Mechkah, an 18-year-old Moroccan. He told a court he was responsible for the attack but denied his motive was terrorism.

At the time of the attack, Mechkah was appealing against a decision on his application for asylum, which apparently was denied.

Prime Minister Juha Sipila has urged the parliament to fast-track a bill that would give authorities new powers to monitor citizens online.

Some officials have also promoted establishing better-controlled "return centres" to monitor more closely those who had been denied asylum.

The poll showed 80 percent of Finns supporting both proposals.

(Reporting by Tuomas Forsell, editing by Larry King)

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