KONGSBERG: A 37-year-old Danish man was being questioned by Norwegian police in custody on Thursday (Oct 14), the chief suspect wanted for killing five people by bow-and-arrow in the country's deadliest attack in a decade.
The motive for the attack, which took place in several locations in the town centre of Kongsberg, was not yet known, but police said terrorism could not yet be ruled out.
According to AFP, the police said the man had converted to Islam and they were in contact with him due to radicalisation fears.
"There were fears linked to radicalisation previously," Norwegian police official Ole Bredrup Saeverud told reporters, adding that police had followed up on him in 2020.
Police official Oyvind Aas confirmed that five people were killed. The two wounded were in critical care units in hospital but their lives did not appear to be in danger, he told a news conference.
"The man who committed this act has been arrested by the police and, according to our information, there is only one person involved," Aas said.
He added that "given how events unfolded, it is natural to assess whether this is a terrorist attack", and stressed that "all possibilities were open".
After Wednesday's attack, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter he was "shocked and saddened by the tragic news coming from Norway".
Police late on Wednesday identified the suspect as a 37-year-old Danish citizen living in Kongsberg, a small town of about 25,000 inhabitants 80km west of Oslo.
"We decided to confirm this information because many rumours were circulating on social networks about the perpetrator of the attack, some (implicating) people who have no connection with these serious acts," said a police statement issued on Wednesday night.
The suspect was questioned by investigators overnight and is due to go before a judge on Thursday or Friday for a custody hearing, his lawyer told AFP.
"He is explaining in detail and he is speaking and cooperating with the police," the lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, told reporters earlier.
"RUNNING FOR THEIR LIVES"
A woman who witnessed some of the attack, Hansine, told TV2 she had heard a disturbance, then saw a woman taking cover and "a man standing on the corner with arrows in a quiver on his shoulder and a bow in his hand".
"Afterwards, I saw people running for their lives. One of them was a woman holding a child by the hand," she said.
The suspect was taken to a police station in the nearby town of Drammen, the force said.
Police were informed of the attack at 6.13pm local time in the town of 25,000 people around 80km west of the capital Oslo. The suspect was arrested at 6.47pm.
"These events shake us," said Prime Minister Erna Solberg on her last day in office.
On Thursday, she will hand over the office to Jonas Gahr Store, whose Labour Party won parliamentary elections.
According to Reuters, Store said he had been kept informed by the outgoing government.
"What we've learned from Kongsberg bears witness of a gruesome and brutal act," he said in a statement to news agency NTB.
Norway's royal family expressed its sympathies.
"We're horrified by the tragic events at Kongsberg," King Harald said in a letter addressed to the town's mayor.
"The rest of the nation stands with you," the 84-year-old monarch wrote.
In Kongsberg, police blocked off the scene of the attack while urging the public to stay at home.
Television footage showed ambulances and armed police in the area. A helicopter and bomb disposal team were also sent to the scene.
Police in the Scandinavian country are not normally armed, but after the attack, the National Police Directorate ordered that officers be armed nationwide.
Norway's intelligence service PST had been alerted, spokesman Martin Bernsen told AFP.
"It is all conjecture at the moment," he said when asked about the possibility of a terrorist motive.
ARROW STICKING IN WALL
The website of public broadcaster NRK published an image sent by a witness of a black arrow sticking out of a wall.
In other pictures, what looked like competition-grade arrows could be seen lying on the ground.
Norway rarely experiences such violence, but 10 years ago far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in the country's worst massacre since World War II.
Breivik first set off a bomb in Oslo next to the building that housed the office of the prime minister, then went on a shooting spree at a summer camp for left-wing youth on the island of Utoya.
In another right-wing attack, self-proclaimed neo-Nazi Philip Manshaus opened fire into a mosque on the outskirts of Oslo in August 2019 before being overpowered by worshippers, with no one seriously injured.
However, he had earlier shot dead his step-sister, who had been adopted from China, in what prosecutors termed a "racist act".
Several planned jihadist attacks have also been foiled by security services.