Police are investigating why a 37-year-old man killed five people and wounded two more on Wednesday in Kongsberg, in southeastern Norway. The man, who murdered the victims using a bow and arrows, is a convert to Islam who was already on the authorities’ radar for presenting a risk of radicalization, regional police said on Thursday.
Norwegian authorities say it is too early to confirm that this is a terrorist attack. The man, of Danish nationality, used other weapons in the attack, according to the police, which did not give further details. The dead — four women and one man — were between 50 and 70 years old.
The attack took place at several points in Kongsberg, a municipality of 28,000 inhabitants 84 kilometers from Oslo, the capital. According to the local press, the man started shooting arrows inside a supermarket belonging to the Coop Extra chain. Then he walked through several streets, shooting at passersby until he was stopped, just over half an hour after starting the attack.
A witness testified to TV2 that he saw a woman trying to hide while a man was “standing on a corner with a quiver with arrows and a bow in his hand.” “Then I saw people running for their lives. One of them was a woman who was pulling a boy by the hand,” this woman told the Norwegian broadcaster.
Oeyvind Aas, chief of the local police, confirmed that the attacker managed to escape an initial approach by the agents, before being finally detained at 8:47 pm (3:47 pm Brasília), 34 minutes after the attack began.
Prosecutor Ann Irén Svane Mathiassen, in charge of the investigation, told the local NTB news agency, without going into details, that the suspect used weapons other than arrows. She added that the man, a resident of this small town, admitted the facts for which he was indicted. “He is known to the police, but I prefer not to give details about what matters he has been involved in,” the representative of the Public Ministry told TV2.
According to the detainee’s lawyer, Fredik Neumann, police questioned him for more than three hours on Wednesday night. His client, who was taken to a police station in the city of Drammen, “is cooperating and giving detailed statements about the fact,” Neumann told public TV NRK.
The wounded were taken to nearby hospitals, while dozens of ambulances and police vehicles, as well as two helicopters, were on their way, according to Norwegian media.
“The information that comes in tonight from Kongsberg is terrible,” the Scandinavian country’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, said at a press conference later in the evening. “I understand that a lot of people are scared, but it’s important to emphasize that the police are now in control of the situation.” The police ordered all police officers in the country to carry weapons immediately. Normally, the Norwegian police are unarmed, although they have access to pistols and rifles if necessary. One of the two injured in the attack is an off-duty policeman who was shopping at the supermarket where the attack began.
The crime takes place 10 years after the biggest killing ever in Norway. On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi who said he was acting in the name of the fight against multiculturalism and the “Muslim invasion,” murdered 77 people in a two-stage attack: first, he detonated a van bomb in the vicinity the seat of government, where eight people died; he later broke into a Labor Party youth wing meeting on the island of Utoya, near Oslo, shooting 69 teenagers to death.
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