KONGSBERG, Norway – A Dane suspected of killing five people with a bow and arrows and possibly other weapons while randomly shooting strangers in a small Norwegian town appears to have committed an act of terrorism Norwegian authorities said Thursday.
Wednesday night’s attack on a supermarket and other locations in downtown Kongsberg, a town of around 26,000 not far from the Norwegian capital, left the country stunned as police released some details , including that police made contact with the 37-year-old suspect but first escaped.
“From what we now know, it is reasonably clear that some, probably everyone, were killed after police came into contact with the assailant,” Regional Police Chief Ole B said on Thursday. Saeverud. The victims were four women and a man between the ages of 50 and 70. Two other people were injured.
Massacres are rare in low-crime Norway, and the attack immediately drew comparisons to the country’s worst peacetime massacre a decade ago, when a right-wing national extremist killed 77 people with a bomb , a rifle and a pistol.
People have “experienced that their safe local environment has suddenly become a dangerous place,” Norwegian King Harald V said on Thursday. least expect it, in the middle of everyday life in the middle of the street. “
Police say the suspect in Wednesday’s attack walked around downtown Kongsberg shooting arrows. Police were alerted to the attack around 6:15 p.m. and arrested the suspect about 30 minutes later. Regional prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told The Associated Press that after the man’s arrest he “clearly described what he had done. He admitted to killing all five people.
The Norwegian Internal Security Agency, known by its acronym PST, cited various aspects of the attack to explain its belief that the suspect’s actions “currently appear to be an act of terrorism”.
“Attacks on random people in public places are a recurring modus operandi among extremist Islamists who engage in terror in the West,” the agency said. He said “the most likely scenario” for such an attack in Norway “is an attack by one or a few perpetrators with simple weapon types, against targets with little or no security measures.”
“The investigation will further clarify the reasons why the incidents were motivated,” PST said in a statement.
The man arrested Wednesday was on the security agency’s radar, but the agency did not say why. Police described him as a Muslim convert who had previously been reported as radicalized.
“Previously there had been concerns about the radicalization of the man,” Saeverud, the police chief, said at a press conference. He did not specify what he meant by calling the suspect radicalized and did not provide more information on why the suspect had already been reported and what authorities had done in response.
Svane Mathiassen, the prosecutor, said the bow and arrows were only part of the killer’s arsenal. Police did not say what other weapons were used in the attack. Weapons experts and other technical officers were recruited to assist in the investigation.
Dozens of witnesses in Kongsberg saw the horrific events. Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarket which was one of the crime scenes, told the AP he saw runaway store workers taking refuge under the doors.
“I saw them hiding in a corner. Then I went to see what was going on and saw the police come in with a shield and guns. It was a very strange sight, ”said Benum.
The next morning the whole town was eerily quiet, he said. “People are sad and shocked. “
The two hospitalized victims are in intensive care. Among them, a policeman on leave who was inside the store. Their conditions were not immediately known.
The suspect is being held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges. He will officially face a custody hearing on Friday. The police believe he acted alone.
Norwegian media reported that the suspect had previously been convicted of burglary and drug possession, and last year a local court issued a restraining order ordering him to stay away from his parents for a period of six months afterwards. threatening to kill one of them.
Svane Mathiassen, who is leading the investigation, told Norwegian television station NRK that the suspect will be assessed by forensic psychiatry experts on Thursday.
“It is not unusual in such severe cases,” she said.
The main church in Kongsberg, a small town of about 26,000 inhabitants, was open to anyone in need of assistance.
“I don’t think anyone expects these kinds of experiences. But no one could imagine that this could happen here in our small town, ”Father Reidar Aasboe told the AP.
PST said on Thursday that the level of the terrorist threat to Norway remained unchanged and was considered “moderate”.
Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark, and Lewis from London.