The killing of five people in a bow-and-arrow attack in Norway appears to be an “act of terror”, Norway’s security service said on Thursday, with the suspect, a Danish Muslim convert, already on their radar for fear that he was a fanatic.
Four women and a man were killed and two others injured on Wednesday in the southeastern city of Kongsberg in Norway’s deadliest attack in a decade.
Norway’s intelligence service PST said in a statement: “The events in Kongsberg currently appear to be an act of terror, but the investigation…
“We are talking about converting to Islam,” police officer Ole Bredrup Severud told reporters on Thursday.
Severud said the 37-year-old suspect had accepted the facts of the case during interrogation. All those killed during the attack were between 50 and 70 years old.
“We are investigating, among other things, whether this was a terrorist act,” Severud said.
Severud said that reports on extremism pre-dated this year, and that police had followed up at the time. “We don’t have any reports about him in 2021, but before that,” he said.
“We are relatively sure that he acted alone.”
PST also confirmed that the suspect knew him, but added that it “couldn’t give any further details about him.”
It also said it did not believe the threat level in the country had changed, describing it as “moderate”.
“Our assessment is that what happened in Kongsberg on 13 October does not change the national threat assessment,” PST said.
Murder is rare in Norway.
It was the deadliest attack in 2011 since right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people.
Since then, Norway has seen another far-right attack, carried out by a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who set a mosque on fire.
On Thursday it was largely quiet in Kongsberg, a picturesque town of 25,000 people with wooden masks and leaves changing colors for autumn.
The roads were almost empty with only a light police presence.
Some police officers were standing outside a shop where the attack took place. The glass door there was broken due to the bullet.
Two candles were twinkling outside the city church.
The suspect was to appear before the judge on Friday for a custodial hearing.
The prosecutor said he was being subjected to a mental examination on Thursday.
The victims have yet to be publicly named, but one of the injured was an off-duty police officer who was in a store.
Norwegian media questioned why it took police more than half an hour to arrest the suspect after the first reports of the attack.
Police were informed of the attack at 6:13 pm (1613 GMT) and the suspect was arrested at 6:47 pm. They fired arrows at the police, who responded with a warning, Severud said.
Thomas Nilsson was at home when he heard screams and said pictures of the war came to mind.
“I thought it was Kabul,” he told AFP.
Another witness, Terje Christiansen, said, “I heard children screaming, barking, and then a helicopter roaring around my house.”
“I didn’t sleep much,” he said.
arrow stuck in the wall
Images in the media showed what looked like a black arrow affixed to a wall and a competing-grade arrow lying on the ground.
Police said on Thursday the suspect had also used other weapons, but did not provide any details.
“These events shook us,” said Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who stepped down on Thursday to be replaced by Jonas Gahr Store, whose Labor Party won the most recent parliamentary elections.
Store mourned the “horrific acts”, while King Harald of Norway said he was “shocked by the tragic events”.
The Norwegian police are generally not armed, but after the attack, the National Police Directorate ordered that officers be armed across the country.
Norway rarely experiences this kind of violence, but 10 years ago Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in the country’s worst massacre since World War II.
Breivik first set up a bomb in Oslo next to the building that housed the prime minister’s office, then went on a shooting spree at a summer camp for left-wing youth on the island of Utoya.
Security services have also foiled several well-planned jihadist attacks.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)