A Danish man suspected of killing 5 folks and injuring two extra in a bow-and-arrow assault in Norway is a Muslim convert with earlier prison convictions who had been flagged as a potential Islamic extremist, police have mentioned.
Norway’s nationwide safety company mentioned the suspect’s actions “presently look like an act of terrorism”.
“We’re speaking a few convert to Islam,” Norwegian police chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud mentioned. There have been “beforehand fears linked to his radicalisation” however establishing motive can be “sophisticated … and can take time”, he mentioned.
5 folks, 4 ladies and one man, aged between 50 and 70 had been killed, and two others, together with an off-duty police officer, had been critically injured within the assault on Wednesday night within the centre of Kongsberg, about 41 miles (66km) south-west of Oslo.
Sæverud mentioned the 37-year-old suspect had confessed to the assault, the deadliest in Norway in a decade, throughout in a single day questioning. “We’re investigating amongst different issues to find out whether or not this was a terrorist assault,” he mentioned.
Norway’s home safety company, recognized by its acronym PST, cited varied points of the assault in explaining its perception that the suspect’s actions gave the impression to be an act of terrorism. “Assaults on random folks in public locations are a recurring modus operandi amongst extremist Islamists finishing up terror within the west,” PST mentioned. It added that the suspect was “recognized to PST from earlier than” however that the company was not capable of present additional particulars about him.
A number of of the victims had been fired on in a Coop grocery store within the city, police mentioned, including that the attacker had used different weapons in addition to a bow and arrows. Each of these wounded are in intensive care, however there was no rapid phrase on their situation.
The suspect is being held on preliminary expenses, one step in need of being formally charged, and is believed to have acted alone. Police had beforehand adopted up on studies of his potential radicalisation however had no studies this 12 months, Sæverud mentioned.
Norway’s public broadcaster, NRK, reported that the suspect had a number of earlier convictions for theft and medicines offences and was sentenced final 12 months to a six-month restraining order banning him from approaching two shut members of the family after he threatened to kill one in all them.
Jonas Gahr Støre, who is anticipated to take workplace as Norway’s new prime minister in a while Thursday, known as the assault “horrific”, including: “That is unreal. However the actuality is that 5 folks have been killed, many are injured and lots of are in shock.”
His predecessor, Erna Solberg, described the assault as “horrifying”, whereas the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, mentioned it was “with very nice unhappiness” that she had heard in regards to the assault.
Sæverud mentioned the victims had been killed after an preliminary contact between police and the shooter shortly after 6.15pm on Wednesday. “The officers had been shot at with arrows and misplaced contact with the perpetrator, who escaped,” he instructed NRK.
“After that, there have been a number of studies at varied addresses that had been adopted up, and police launched a serious search operation throughout a big space. We subsequently got here throughout a number of injured folks, and the person was arrested at 6.47pm,” he mentioned.
Native media reported that the suspect was finally detained in town’s Gamlabrua Bridge, and quoted eyewitnesses as saying the principle sq., close to the Coop, was sealed off and a home within the neighbourhood looked for greater than two hours. One witness noticed a girl being stabbed.
The United Nations secretary normal, António Guterres, mentioned on Twitter he was “shocked and saddened by the tragic information coming from Norway”. It was the nation’s deadliest assault because the far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 folks in 2011.
Since then, Norway has suffered one different far-right assault, carried out by self-proclaimed neo-Nazi Philip Manshaus, who opened fireplace right into a mosque exterior Oslo in 2019 earlier than being overpowered by worshippers. Nobody was critically injured.
Police mentioned earlier on Thursday that the suspect was a Danish citizen who lived in Kongsberg. He was in a police cell within the close by city of Drammen and was as a consequence of go earlier than a choose on Thursday or Friday for a custody listening to, his lawyer mentioned.
“He’s cooperating and is giving detailed statements concerning this occasion,” the lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, instructed public broadcaster NRK, including that his shopper was “deeply affected”. He declined to remark additional past saying the suspect’s mom was Danish, nevertheless it was not recognized whether or not he had ever lived there.
A lady who witnessed a few of the assault, Hansine, instructed Norway’s TV2 that she had heard a disturbance, then noticed a girl taking cowl and “a person standing on the nook with arrows in a quiver on his shoulder and a bow in his hand”.
“Afterwards, I noticed folks operating for his or her lives. Certainly one of them was a girl holding a baby by the hand,” she mentioned. Photos in Norwegian media present a black arrow protruding of a wall and what gave the impression to be competition-grade arrows mendacity on the bottom.
One other witness, Thomas Nilsen, instructed NRK he “thought it was conflict, it was so intense”. After what he at first thought was a “loud quarrel”, he head “a scream I’ve by no means heard earlier than. It was a scream that burned into the soul. I’ll always remember that. I perceived it as a loss of life cry,” he mentioned.