Norwegian bow and arrow attack that killed 5 appears to be “act of terrorism”, officials say

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The deadly bow and arrow attack by a Danish suspect yesterday in a small Norwegian town that claimed the lives of five people “currently appears[s] be an act of terrorism, “the Norwegian national security agency said Thursday.

The suspect – a Muslim convert who had previously been reported as radicalized, according to police – is accused of shooting people in several locations in the city of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening. Several of the victims were in a supermarket, police said.

“Previously there had been concerns about the radicalization of the man,” Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud told a press conference. He added that there were “complicated assessments related to the motive, and it will take time before this is clarified.” He did not elaborate on what it meant to be radicalized.

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Police are working near a site Thursday after a man killed people in Kongsberg, Norway.
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Police are working near a site Thursday after a man killed people in Kongsberg, Norway.
(Terje Bendiksby / NTB via AP)

The Norwegian Internal Security Agency, known by its acronym PST, cited various aspects of the attack which also injured two people, explaining 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 internal security agency said.

The agency said that “the most likely scenario of an extremely Islamist terrorist attack in Norway is an attack by one or a few perpetrators with simple types of weapons, against targets with little or no security measures.” .

He added that the suspect “has been known to the PST for a long time, without the PST being able to provide more details about him”.

“The investigation will further clarify the reasons why the incidents were motivated,” the PST said in a statement.

An arrow is seen in a wall after an attack in Kongsberg, Norway on Wednesday.

An arrow is seen in a wall after an attack in Kongsberg, Norway on Wednesday.
(Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB via AP)

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Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, the police lawyer 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 victims were four women and a man aged 50 to 70, Saeverud said.

Police were alerted at 6:12 p.m. on Wednesday by a man shooting arrows in Kongsberg, about 61 kilometers southwest of Oslo. Officers contacted the suspect, but he escaped and was not arrested until 6:47 p.m., Saeverud said.

Authorities believe the man only started killing people when police arrived at the scene.

“From what we now know, it is reasonably clear that some, probably everyone, were killed after police came into contact with the assailant,” Saeverud said.

Police are working near a site Thursday after a man killed several people in Kongsberg, Norway.

Police are working near a site Thursday after a man killed several people in Kongsberg, Norway.
(Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB via AP)

Speaking calmly and clearly after his arrest, the suspect told police: “I did that,” Svane Mathiassen said. The suspect “clearly described what he did. He admitted to killing all five people,” she told The Associated Press.

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The rampage occurred at the sight of dozens of witnesses in this small town, which is now in shock, according to onlookers. Police have already spoken to between 20 and 30 witnesses who saw the assailant injure and kill his victims, according to Svane Mathiassen.

“There are people who saw him in the city. Before the killings. That’s when he injured people,” she said.

Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarket which was one of the crime scenes, told the AP he saw fleeing store workers take refuge under the doors.

“I saw them hiding in a corner. Then I went to see what was going on and I saw the police come in with a shield and guns. It was a very strange sight.”

The next morning the whole town was eerily quiet, he said. “People are sad and shocked.”

The bow and arrows were part of the killer’s arsenal. Police have yet to confirm what other weapons he used. Weapons experts and other technical officers are being recruited to help with the investigation.

The two hospitalized victims are in intensive care. Among them, a policeman on leave who was inside the store. Their condition was not immediately known.

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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.

“It goes without saying that this is a very serious and widespread situation, and it naturally affects Kongsberg and those who live here,” police spokesman Oeyvind Aas said earlier.

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 after. threatening to kill one of them.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the attack “horrific”.

“It’s unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock,” Gahr Stoere told Norwegian television station NRK.

In a statement to the mayor of Kongsberg, King Harald V of Norway said that people have “experienced that their safe local environment has suddenly become a dangerous place. It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when we least expect it, in the middle of everyday life in the middle of the street. ”

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and saddened by the tragic news from Norway”.

The main church in Kongsberg, a small town of about 26,000 people, was open to anyone in need of help.

“I don’t think anyone expects these kinds of experiences. But no one can imagine that this could happen here in our small town,” Reverend Reidar Aasboe told the AP.

Mass killings are rare in low crime Norway, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

Lovdata, a website that publishes information on the country’s laws, states that anyone in Norway “who wants to acquire or have a firearm must have a police license” and “anyone who wants to acquire or have ammunition must either have a license to have and use firearms in which ammunition is inserted, or have a special license from the police. “

The country’s worst peacetime massacre took place on July 22, 2011, when right-wing extremist Anders Breivik detonated a bomb in the capital, Oslo, killing eight people. Then he traveled to the tiny island of Utoya, where he tracked down members, mostly teenagers, of the youth wing of the Labor Party and killed 69 other victims.

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Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum under Norwegian law, but his sentence can be extended as long as he is considered a danger to society.

PST said on Thursday that the level of the terrorist threat to Norway remained unchanged and was considered “moderate”.

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