Suspect in Norway bow-and-arrow killings had been flagged over radicalisation

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Suspect In Norway Bow-And-Arrow Killings Had Been Flagged Over Radicalisation
Police work near a site after a man killed several people in Kongsberg, Norway, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Jan M Olsen, Associated Press

A Danish man suspected of a bow-and-arrow attack in a small Norwegian town that killed five people is a Muslim convert who was previously flagged as having been radicalised, police said.

Norway’s national security agency said the suspect’s actions “currently appear to be an act of terrorism”.

The man is suspected of having shot at people in a number of locations in the town of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening. Several of the victims were in a supermarket, police said.

“There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalised,” said Police chief Ole B Saeverud during a news conference.

He added that there were “complicated assessments related to the motive, and it will take time before this is clarified”.

Norway’s domestic security agency, known by its acronym PST, cited various aspects of the attack, that also wounded three people, in explaining its belief that the suspect’s actions “currently appear to be an act of terrorism”.

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“Attacks on random people in public places are a recurring modus operandi among extremist Islamists carrying out terror in the West,” the domestic security agency said.

The agency said that “the most probable scenario of an extremely Islamist terrorist attack in Norway is an attack carried out by one or a few perpetrators with simple weapon types, against targets with few or no security measures”.

Chief of police Ole B Saeverud (Terje Pedersen/NTB/AP)

It added that the suspect “is known to PST from before, without PST being able to provide further details about him”.

“The investigation will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by,” the PST said in a statement.

Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, the police lawyer who is leading the investigation, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the suspect will be assessed by forensic psychiatric experts.

“This is not unusual in such serious cases,” she said.

The victims were four women and one man between the ages of 50 and 70, Ms Saeverud said.

Police at the scene of the attack in Kongsberg (Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

Police were alerted at 6.12pm on Wednesday to a man shooting arrows in Kongsberg, some 41 miles south-west of Oslo. Officers made contact with the suspect but he escaped and was not caught until 6.47pm, Ms Saeverud said.

Officials believe that the man did not start killing people until police arrived on the scene.

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“From what we know now, it is reasonably clear that some, probably everyone, was killed after the police were in contact with the perpetrator,” Ms Saeverud said.

Speaking calmly and clearly after his arrest, the suspect told police, “I did this,” said Ms Svane Mathiassen.

The suspect “clearly described what he had done. He admitted killing the five people,” she said.

The attack happened in clear view of dozens of witnesses in the small town, according to onlookers.

An arrow embedded in a wall in Kongsberg (Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/AP)

Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarket that was one of the crime scenes, said that he saw shop workers sheltering in doorways.

He said: “I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what was happening, and I saw the police moving in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight.”

The bow and arrows were just part of the killer’s arsenal. Police are yet to confirm what other weapons he used. Weapons experts and other technical officers are being drafted in to help with the investigation.

Among the victims in hospital in intensive care is an off-duty police officer who was inside the store.

The suspect is being held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges. He will formally face a custody hearing on Friday. Police believe he acted alone.

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“It goes without saying that this is a very serious and extensive situation, and it naturally affects Kongsberg and those who live here,” Police spokesman Oeyvind Aas said earlier.

Police at the scene (Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/AP)

Norwegian media reported that the suspect previously had been convicted of burglary and possession of drugs.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the attack “horrific”.

“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock,” he said.

In a statement to the mayor of Kongsberg, Norwegian King Harald V said people have “experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place”. He added: “It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and saddened by the tragic news coming from Norway”.

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