OSLO, Norway | The alleged perpetrator of an archery attack that killed five in Kongsberg, in south-eastern Norway, is a 37-year-old Danish convert to Islam who has been the subject of “fears of radicalization” in the past, Norwegian police said Thursday.
“This is about a convert to Islam,” Norwegian police official Ole Bredrup Saeverud said at a press briefing in Tønsberg on Thursday.
“There have been fears related to radicalization previously,” he added, adding that these fears dated back to 2020 and before, and that they had given rise to police monitoring.
Five people died and two others were injured in the attack which shocked the peaceful Scandinavian kingdom, already ravaged by two far-right attacks in the past decade.
“We are investigating, among other things, to clarify whether it is a terrorist attack,” said Ole Bredrup Saeverud. “We are relatively certain that he acted alone.”
The victims are four women and a man aged between 50 and 70, he said, adding that none of the injured was in critical condition. The suspect admitted to the facts during his questioning, police said.
A Danish national residing in Kongsberg, a small town of about 25,000 inhabitants about 80 kilometers west of Oslo, the suspect was heard by investigators overnight and must be presented to a judge on Thursday or Friday with a view to his placement in pre-trial detention.
According to his lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, he is cooperative.
“He explains himself in detail and he speaks and cooperates well with the police,” he told reporters.
The attack occurred in several places over a large area of Kongsberg, including a supermarket. It was there that a policeman, who was not on duty at the time, was injured.
Alerted at 6:12 pm (local time), the police arrested the suspect more than half an hour later, at 6:47 pm They came under fire from arrows at the time of the stop and had to fire shots. of warning.
Other weapons used
The press published photos of black arrows, visibly competitive, lying on the ground or, for one of them, firmly embedded in a wall.
Police say the suspect also used other weapons, the nature of which has not been specified.
Testimonies illustrated the feeling of terror that gripped the inhabitants of Kongsberg.
A woman, Hansine, who partially witnessed the attack, told TV2 that she heard a commotion and saw a woman taking cover as well as “a man around the corner with arrows in a quiver on the shoulder and a bow in the hand ”.
“Afterwards, I saw people running for their lives. One of them was a woman who was holding a child by the hand, ”she testified to the channel.
The attack, with the unusual modus operandi, occurred on the last day of the mandate of Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who is due to hand over the reins on Thursday to a new center-left government led by Jonas Gahr Støre, winner of the parliamentary elections of September 13.
Mr Støre deplored “horrible acts” on Thursday.
“We are horrified by the tragic events in Kongsberg”, also reacted King Harald V, while the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, said in a tweet “shocked and saddened”.
In response to the attack, police, who are usually unarmed, will temporarily carry weapons across the country.
Several planned Islamist attacks have been foiled in Norway in the past.
But the peaceful Scandinavian nation has been bereaved by two far-right attacks in the past decade.
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people by detonating a bomb near the seat of government in Oslo, killing eight, before opening fire on a Labor Youth rally on the island of Utøya, causing 69 other victims.
In August 2019, Philip Manshaus also shot in a mosque near Oslo, before being overpowered by worshipers, without causing serious injuries. He had previously racially shot his adopted half-sister, of Asian origin.