Hakon Mosvold Larsen / NTB / AFP via Getty Images
The Norwegian Internal Security Agency said an attack by a man using a bow and arrows that killed five people and injured two others currently appears to be “an act of terrorism”.
Thursday’s statement follows a police briefing in which authorities said the suspect was a Danish citizen and converted Muslim who had previously been reported by authorities over concerns he had radicalized. He was arrested on Wednesday following the attack in the town of Kongsberg about 80 kilometers southwest of Oslo.
In Wednesday night’s attack, the assailant killed four women and a man; two other people were seriously injured. The victims were between 50 and 70 years old, police said.
Regional police chief Ole B. Saeverud said the suspect was a “convert to Islam”.
“There had been concerns about the radicalization of the man,” he told a press conference on Thursday. He also said there were “complicated assessments” regarding a pattern and that it would take time before it could be clarified. He said the latest worrying report regarding the 37-year-old suspect was from last year.
Meanwhile, the country’s internal security agency, known by its acronym PST, said it believed the attack was 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 PST said, according to the Associated Press.
The attack came as Norway was in the midst of a change of government, which took place on Thursday morning.
Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the attack “horrific” and said it was “too early to say anything about the motive for these actions, but police are examining whether it is happening. acts of a terrorist act “, according to Euro news. In comments to Norwegian news agency NTB, new Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said the assault represented “a cruel and brutal act”.
The suspect’s duty counsel, Fredrik Neumann, said his client was cooperating and would appear before a judge on Friday, when details of the charges against him were made public.
Neumann noted the suspect is a Danish citizen, whose mother is Danish and father is Norwegian.
Police investigating lawyer Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen said after his arrest the suspect told police “I did it”. Police said he was the sole attacker. “We’ll have to see if he also pleads guilty,” she later told private broadcaster TV2, according to Reuters.
“There are people who saw him in the city. Before the killings. That’s when he injured people,” she said.
At 6:13 p.m. local time, police received several messages that a man was moving with a bow and arrows in downtown Kongsberg, according to a police officer. declaration translated from Norwegian. Saeverud said police urged residents to stay inside, then briefly contacted the suspect, but failed to apprehend him until 6:47 p.m.
“From what we now know, it’s pretty clear that some, probably everyone, were killed after police came into contact with the assailant,” Saeverud said.
Wednesday night’s attack was the worst in Norway since far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, in a 2011 Oslo bombing and a mass shooting on the Utoya Island.