In Kongsberg, Norway, a man with a bow and arrow killed at least five people. The motive is not yet clear – but the investigators do not consider an act of terrorism to be ruled out.
The security service of the Norwegian police rowed back a little with its assessment of the fatal attack in Kongsberg as a terrorist act on Thursday. In a press conference, the head of the secret service PST said: “The act looks like an act of terrorism, but we do not know the motives of the perpetrator.”
The 37-year-old Dane, who is accused of killing five people in the small Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening, went in and out of the health service. PST boss Hans Sverre Sjøvold emphasized that the investigation was still ongoing. But it is correct that the man was known to the PST.
The prosecutor said that the man had made a comprehensive statement. He also justified his actions, but they do not want to share the details with the public. So far, the man has not been specifically accused of terror.
An old childhood friend of the detained man told the news site “Nettavisen” that he had already informed the police in 2017 that he thought his friend was dangerous. Norwegian media reported on YouTube videos in which a man believed to be the suspect identified himself as a Muslim and announced an action. A spokesman for the security service said he did not know the video and could not confirm that it was the detainee. But this is very likely.
The Norwegian authorities had contacted the 37-year-old Dane last year about suspected radicalization, as the investigators announced on Thursday at a press conference in Oslo. Accordingly, the man had previously converted to Islam.
“The threat situation in Norway is still rated as moderate,” said the security service of the Norwegian police on Thursday. It is now being investigated whether what happened could inspire others to commit serious acts of violence. However, there are no concrete indications of this.
The alleged perpetrator is apparently ready to cooperate with the police. His defense attorney told the press that he gave information about the crime during an interrogation that night. He was charged.
The act took place around 6:13 p.m. in several places in the center of the city of Kongsberg, which is around 80 kilometers southwest of the capital Oslo. Several media reported that a supermarket was one of the locations. The center was temporarily cordoned off over a large area. A large number of armed security guards and ambulances could be seen on television. A helicopter and a bomb disposal team were also dispatched to the crime scene.
See here or above in the video recordings from Kongsberg.
When the alleged perpetrator was arrested, the police fired warning shots. He was taken to a police station in the neighboring town of Drammen. According to a TV2 report, the man also had a knife and possibly several other weapons with him. The injured were taken to the hospital, including a policeman who had been traveling privately.
Police are investigating in the center of Kongsberg: A man is said to have killed several people there with a bow and arrow. (Source: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / dpa)
A resident of Kongsberg told NTB news agency that she heard the alarm go off in a supermarket. She didn’t think much about it. But then she also heard police cars and ambulances. The police searched garages and backyards in the city center with flashlights in the evening.
Norway’s outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg was shocked by the act. “Our thoughts go first of all to those affected and their relatives,” said Solberg late on Wednesday evening at a press conference called at short notice in Oslo. She will be replaced at the head of government by the Social Democrat Jonas Gahr Støre on Thursday after her election defeat a month ago. The act did not affect the change of government, said Solberg.
“The reports coming from Kongsberg tonight are horrific,” said Solberg. “The perpetrator committed terrible acts against several people. This is a very dramatic situation that hits the community in Kongsberg hard.” It is important to underline that nothing is known about the incident.
Kongsberg’s mayor, Kari Anne Sand, was also stunned. “This is a tragedy for all concerned. I have no words,” she told the Norwegian newspaper “Verdens Gang”. The head of government in neighboring Sweden, Stefan Löfven, wrote on Twitter that his thoughts were with the victims and their families. It was a “terrible attack”.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated in a letter of condolence that he had learned of the “horrific act of violence” “with great dismay and deep sadness”. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said on Twitter that he was “shocked by the brutal attack”.
Norway has been the target of right-wing extremist attacks several times in the past. On July 22, 2011, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Oslo and on the island of Utöya. In August 2019, the racist Philip Manshaus carried out an attack on a mosque on the outskirts of Oslo. Manshaus had previously killed his Asian-born stepsister. Several Islamist attacks have also been foiled in the past.