Hakon Mosvold Larsen / NTB / AFP via Getty Images
Norway’s national security agency said an attack by a man using a bow and arrow that killed five people and injured two more was currently “a terrorism.”
The statement on Thursday followed a police briefing in which authorities said the suspect was a Danish citizen and a Muslim convert who had previously been flagged by authorities over concern that he had become radicalized. He was arrested on Wednesday following an attack in the town of Kongsberg about 50 miles southwest of Oslo.
In Wednesday night’s attack, the perpetrator killed four women and a man; two other people were seriously injured. The victims ranged in age from 50 to 70, police said.
Regional police chief Ole B. Saeverud said the suspect was a “convert to Islam.”
“There have been male concerns that have been radicalized,” he said at a news conference on Thursday. He also said there are “complex analyzes” about a motive and it will take time before it is clarified. He said the last report of concern about the 37-year-old suspect was last year.
Meanwhile, the country’s domestic security agency, known by the acronym PST, said they believed the attack was an “act of terrorism.”
“Attacking random people in public places is a recurring modus operandi among Islamist extremists who practice terror in the West,” the PST said, according to The Associated Press.
The attack took place as Norway was in the midst of a change of government, which took place Thursday morning.
Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the attack “horrific” and said it was “too early to say anything about the motive behind the actions, but police are considering whether it was an act of terrorism,” according to Euro News. In comments to the Norwegian news agency NTB, incoming Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said the attack represented “a cruel and brutal act.”
The suspect’s court -appointed lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, said his client was cooperating and he would face a judge on Friday, when details of the allegations against him would be made public.
Neumann said the suspect is a Danish citizen, whose mother is Danish and whose father is Norwegian.
The police lawyer leading the investigation, Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, said that after he was arrested, the suspect told police “I did it.” Police said they believe he was the only one who attacked. “We need to see if he also pleaded guilty,” he later told TV2’s private broadcaster, according to Reuters.
“Some people saw him in the city. Before the murder. That’s when he injured people,” he said.
At 6:13 a.m. local time, police received multiple messages that a man was moving with a bow and arrow in Kongsberg town center, according to police. statement translated from Norwegian. Saeverud said police encouraged residents to stay indoors and then briefly contact the suspect, but were unable to arrest him until 6:47 p.m.
“As far as we know now, it is very clear that some, probably all, were killed after police contact the culprit,” Saeverud said.
The attack on Wednesday night was the worst in Norway since right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, in a 2011 bombing attack in Oslo and shooting on the island of Utoya.