A 37-year-old Danish man was yesterday being questioned by Norwegian police as the chief suspect wanted for killing five people by bow and arrow in the country’s deadliest attack in a decade.
Regional police chief Ole B. Saeverud told a news conference that the man, a Muslim convert, had previously been flagged.
“There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized,” Saeverud said.
The victims were four women and one man aged 50 to 70, Saeverud said.
The man is suspected of having shot at people in a number of locations in the town of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening, including killing several people in a supermarket, police said.
Norwegian news agency NTB cited police as saying the suspect also used other weapons.
There was “a confrontation” between officers and the assailant in connection with the arrest, police said, but gave no details.
Two people were in intensive care. They include an off-duty police officer who was inside the store. Their condition was not immediately known.
Officers responding to the incident were also shot at with arrows, police said.
It was the deadliest attack in the Scandinavian country since far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011. Since then, Norway has seen one other far-right attack, carried out by a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who opened fire into a mosque.
After Wednesday’s attack, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and saddened by the tragic news coming from Norway.”
Police late on Wednesday identified the suspect as a Danish citizen living in Kongsberg, a small town of about 25,000 inhabitants 80km west of Oslo.
“We decided to confirm this information because many rumors were circulating on social networks about the perpetrator of the attack, some [implicating] people who have no connection with these serious acts,” police said.
The suspect is being held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges. Police believe he acted alone.
The suspect was questioned by investigators overnight and was due to go before a judge yesterday or today for a custody hearing, his lawyer said.
“He is explaining in detail, and he is speaking and cooperating with the police,” the lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, told reporters earlier.
Police official Oyvind Aas on Wednesday said that “given how events unfolded, it is natural to assess whether this is a terrorist attack” and stressed that “all possibilities were open.”
Police were informed of the attack at 6:13pm and the suspect was arrested at 6:47pm.
A witness, identified only as Hansine, told TV2 she had heard a disturbance, then saw a woman take cover and “a man standing on the corner with arrows in a quiver on his shoulder and a bow in his hand.”
“Afterwards, I saw people running for their lives. One of them was a woman holding a child by the hand,” she said.
Images in the media showed a black arrow sticking out of a wall and what looked like competition-grade arrows lying on the ground.
“These events shake us,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who stepped down yesterday to be replaced by Jonas Gahr Store, whose Labour Party won recent parliamentary elections.
Norwegian police are not normally armed, but after the attack, the National Police Directorate ordered that officers be armed nationwide.
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