The suspect’s actions “currently appear to be an act of terrorism,” according to Norway’s national security agency.
Police on Thurday claim a Danish man suspected of carrying out a bow-and-arrow attack in a small Norwegian town that killed five people is a Muslim convert who had previously been flagged as radicalized.
On Wednesday evening, the man is suspected of shooting at people in a number of locations throughout the town of Kongsberg. According to police, several of the victims were in a supermarket.
“There had previously been concerns that the man had become radicalized,” police chief Ole B. Saeverud said at a news conference.
He went on to say that there were “complicated assessments related to the motive, and it will take time to clarify this.” He didn’t explain what he meant by “radicalized.”
PST, Norway’s domestic security agency, cited various aspects of the attack, which also injured two people, in explaining why it believes the suspect’s actions “currently appear to be an act of terrorism.”
“Attacks on random people in public places are a recurring mode of operation among extremist Islamists carrying out terror in the West,” according to the domestic security agency.
According to the agency, the “most likely scenario of an extremely Islamist terrorist attack in Norway is an attack carried out by one or a few perpetrators using simple weapon types against targets with few or no security measures.”
It went on to say that the suspect “is known to PST from before, but PST is unable to provide further details about him.”
“The investigation will clarify in greater detail what motivated the incidents,” PST said in a statement.
The police attorney in charge of the investigation, Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the suspect will be evaluated by forensic psychiatric experts on Thursday.
“In such serious cases, this is not unusual,” she was quoted as saying.
According to Saeverud, the victims were four women and one man between the ages of 50 and 70.
At 6:12 p.m. on Wednesday, police received a report of a man shooting arrows in Kongsberg, about 66 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of Oslo.
Officers made contact with the suspect, but he escaped and was not apprehended until 6:47 p.m., according to Saeverud.
Officials believe the man did not begin killing people until police arrived.
“Based on what we know now, it’s fairly clear that some, if not everyone, were killed after police made contact with the perpetrator,” Saeverud said.
“I did this,” the suspect said calmly and clearly after his arrest, according to Svane Mathiassen. “He clearly described what he had done,” the suspect said. “He confessed to killing the five people,” she told The Associated Press.
The rampage occurred in full view of dozens of witnesses in this small town, which is currently in stunned silence, according to onlookers. According to Svane Mathiassen, police have already spoken to between 20 and 30 witnesses who saw the attacker wound and kill his victims.
“There have been reports of him being seen in the city. Prior to the murders. “That’s when he hurt people,” she explained.
Erik Benum, who lives on the same street as one of the crime scenes, told the Associated Press that he saw the escaped shop workers hiding in doorways.
“I noticed them in the corner. Then I went to see what was going on, and I saw the cops approaching with a shield and rifles. It was an unusual sight.”
The next morning, he said, the entire town was unusually quiet. “People are both saddened and shocked.”
The killer’s arsenal included a bow and arrows. The police have not confirmed what other weapons he used. Weapons experts and other technical officers have been brought in to assist with the investigation.
Both of the hospitalized victims are in critical condition. One of them was an off-duty police officer who was in the store. Their condition was unknown at the time.
The suspect is being held on preliminary charges, which are a step before formal charges are filed. On Friday, he will formally appear in court for a custody hearing. He is believed to have acted alone, according to police.
“It goes without saying that this is a very serious and widespread situation, and it obviously affects Kongsberg and those who live here,” police spokesman Oeyvind Aas said earlier.
According to Norwegian media, the suspect had previously been convicted of burglary and drug possession, and last year a local court granted a restraining order ordering him to stay away from his parents for six months after threatening to kill one of them.
The attack was described as “horrific” by newly appointed Prime Minister-Jonas Gahr Stoere.
“This is unbelievable. However, five people have been killed, many have been injured, and many are in shock,” Gahr Stoere told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Norwegian King Harald V said in a statement to the mayor of Kongsberg that people have “experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place.”
It jolts us all when terrible things happen close to us, when we least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his shock and sadness on Twitter, saying he was “shocked and saddened by the tragic news coming from Norway.”
The main church in Kongsberg, a small town of about 26,000 people, was open to anyone in need of assistance.
“I don’t think anyone expects to have such experiences.” But nobody could have predicted that this could happen in our small town,” parish priest Reidar Aasboe told the Associated Press.
Mass murders are uncommon in Norway, which has a low crime rate.
The country’s worst peacetime massacre occurred on July 22, 2011, when right-wing extremist Anders Breivik detonated a bomb in Oslo, killing eight people.
Then he went to Utoya Island, where he stalked the mostly adolescent members of the Labor Party’s youth wing and murdered another 69 people.The United Nations and Afghanistan’s Taliban figuring out how to work together
Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum allowed by Norwegian law, but his sentence can be extended for as long as he is deemed a danger to society.
According to PST, Norway’s terror threat level remains unchanged and is classified as “moderate.”
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