Norwegian officials: Bow-and-arrow attack appears to be an act of terrorism

KONGSBERG, Norway-A Danish man suspected of a bow-and-arrow attack in a small Norwegian town that killed five people is a Muslim convert who was previously marked as being radicalized, police said on Thursday. Norway’s national security agency said the suspect’s actions “at the moment appear to be a terrorist act”.

The man is suspected of having shot at people in a number of places in the town of Kongsberg on Wednesday night. Several of the victims were in a supermarket, police said.

“There had previously been concerns that the man had been radicalized,” said Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud during 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 was meant to be radicalized.

Norway’s domestic security agency, known by its acronym PST, cited various aspects of the attack, which also injured two people by 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 carrying out terror in the West,” the Homeland Security Agency said.

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

It added that the suspect “is known to PST from before, without PST being able to provide further information about him.”

“The investigation will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by,” PST said in a statement.

Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, the police lawyer who leads the investigation, told the Norwegian television station NRK that the suspect will be assessed by forensic psychiatric experts on Thursday.

“This is not unusual in such severe cases,” she was quoted as saying.

The victims were four women and a man between 50 and 70 years old, Saeverud said.

Police were alerted on Wednesday at 18.12 about a man who shoots arrows in Kongsberg, about 66 kilometers southwest of Oslo. Officers contacted the suspect, but he escaped and was not caught until 1 p.m. 18.47, said Saeverud.

Officials believe the man did not start killing people until police arrived at the scene.

“From what we know now, it is fairly clear that some, probably all, were killed after the police were in contact with the perpetrator,” Saeverud said.

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

The accident happened in clear view of dozens of witnesses in this small town, which today is in stylish shock, according to spectators. Police have already spoken to between 20 and 30 witnesses who saw the attacker injure and kill his victims, according to Svane Mathiassen.

“There are people who saw him in the city. Before the killings. That was when he hurt people, “she said.

Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarket, which was one of the crime scenes, told the AP that he saw the fleeing shop workers lying in doorways.

“I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what happened and I saw the police move in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight. ”

The following morning, the entire city was eerily quiet, he said. “People are bored and bored of it.”

The bow and arrows were just part of the killer’s arsenal. Police have not yet confirmed what other weapons he used. Weapons experts and other technical officers are being drafted to help with the investigation.

Both the hospitalized victims are on intensive care. They include a police officer who was off duty and who was inside the store. Their condition was not immediately known.

The suspect has been detained on preliminary charges, which is one step less than formal charges. He will be formally subjected to a custody hearing on Friday. Police believe he acted alone.

“It goes without saying that it is a very serious and extensive 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 possession of drugs, and last year a local court announced a ban on staying away from his parents for a period of six months after he threatened to kill one of Dem.

The newly appointed Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the attack terrible.

“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock, “said Gahr Stoere to the Norwegian television station NRK.

In a statement to the mayor of Kongsberg, Norwegian King Harald V said that people have “experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place. It shakes us all when terrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street. ”

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 with about 26,000 inhabitants, was open to anyone who needed support.

“I do not think anyone expects such experiences. But no one could imagine that this could happen here in our small town, “parish priest Reidar Aasboe told AP.

Mass killings are rare in low-crime Norway.

The country’s worst massacre in peacetime was on July 22, 2011, when right-wing extremist Anders Breivik fired a bomb in the capital Oslo, killing eight people. Then he went to the small Utoya island, where he persecuted most of the teenagers in the youth wing of the Labor Party and killed another 69 victims.

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

PST said on Thursday that the terrorist threat level for Norway remains unchanged and is considered “moderate”.

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