A shooting in Oslo in which two people were killed and many others injured on Saturday is being investigated as an act of terrorism, the city’s police said.
The arrested suspected is believed to be a radicalised Islamist who has a history of mental illness, Norway’s PST intelligence service said on Saturday.
The suspect, who was not named by police, has been known to security services since 2015, the PST added.
The suspect went on a terrifying rampage in a gay bar and surrounding streets in Oslo on Saturday, killing two people and seriously injuring 10 on the day the city’s LGBTQ community was due to celebrate its annual Pride parade.
The victims were shot inside and outside the London Pub, a well-known gay bar and nightclub open since 1979, as well as at one other bar in the centre of the Norwegian capital.
“I saw a man arrive with a bag, he picked up a gun and started to shoot,” said journalist Olav Roenneberg of public broadcaster NRK, who was in the area. “Then I saw the windows breaking and understood that I had to take cover.”
The suspect, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, was detained minutes after, according to police who said they believed he acted alone. Two weapons, including a fully automatic gun, were retrieved from the crime scene, they said.
“There is reason to think that this may be a hate crime,” officers said at a news conference. “We are investigating whether the Pride was a target in itself or whether there are other motives.”
Possible act of terrorism
Oslo police spokesman Rune Hekkelstrand said the attack was also being investigated as a possible act of terrorism.
Norwegian prime minister Jonas Gahr Stoere decried the shootings as a “terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people”.
The suspect was known to authorities, including for violence of a less severe nature, police said.
The shooting happened in the early hours of Saturday, and just months after Norway marked 50 years since the abolition of a law that criminalised gay sex. Eleven people also suffered minor injuries, police said.
Organisers of Oslo Pride cancelled Saturday’s parade, citing police advice. “We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will mark Pride celebrations at home,” they said.
Photographs published by newspaper VG, broadcaster NRK and others showed a large gathering of emergency responders outside the London Pub, including police and ambulance workers.
Helicopters hovered above central Oslo while ambulance and police car sirens were heard across the city.
Oslo’s university hospital said it had gone on red alert following the shooting.
Norway, a country of 5.4 million, has lower crime rates than many other Western nations, though it has experienced hate-motivated shootings, including when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011. — Reuters