Two people were killed and more than 20 injured, some seriously, when a gunman fired indiscriminate shots in central Oslo on Saturday night. The police are assuming an act of terrorism with an Islamist background.
“We do not know whether the act was directed against the Pride community,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Störe on Saturday when he had to comment to the media with dismay about an attack that took place the night before, in which two people were killed and over twenty had been injured, some seriously. “But we know that the Pride community is their victim.”
Once again, Norway has become the target of a brutal attack on innocent people. With the shots, the world suddenly turned from happiness and love to hate and murder.
The police and the Norwegian news service PST are now assuming a terrorist attack with an Islamist background. A suspect was arrested shortly after the incident. Apparently, he was initially stopped by passers-by, until the police arrived at the scene after a short time.
A person directly involved later said on Norwegian television that when the perpetrator was about to change the magazine of his automatic weapon, he was bumped into by a passer-by and the weapon fell out of his hand. He then pulled out a gun and tried to get away. However, he was caught by four passers-by who overpowered him and held him until the police arrived. A police officer confirmed on Sunday that two firearms had been seized, an automatic rifle and a pistol, both of an older type.
The civilians involved acted with heroism and undoubtedly saved lives, according to a police spokeswoman. The arrested person is a 42-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian-Kurdish descent. The investigators assume a single perpetrator; As a precaution, however, the PST issued the highest terror warning level.
As a result, both the Pride parade scheduled for Saturday and other Pride Week events were canceled for security reasons. Because the shots were fired on Saturday night near a nightclub popular with homosexuals and the first Pride parade was imminent after a two-year Corona break, it could not be ruled out that the act was directed against the event and the Pride community.
The organizers were disappointed, but said in a statement that they would of course follow the instructions of the authorities. One is convinced that one can soon show oneself proud again, but now it is important to support those affected. Nevertheless, several thousand people spontaneously gathered in downtown Oslo on Saturday to show that they didn’t want to be defeated.
The police and PST had had the suspect on their radar for years. He had criminal records for violent and drug offenses. However, the PST, who last “had a conversation” with him in the spring, did not classify him as generally dangerous, although he was said to have a tendency towards radical Islamist views.
The man’s assessment could still give something to talk about. Because in two other attacks that have shaken Norway in recent years – an attack on a mosque near Oslo and a killing spree in a provincial town – the perpetrator in each case proved to be more dangerous than the specialist agencies had previously estimated. In retrospect, one could say that the security analysis regarding the alleged perpetrator was incomplete, the PST said on Saturday evening.
Statement initially denied
John Christian Elden, a prominent lawyer, will defend him. According to media reports, he warned against jumping to conclusions about the motive for the crime. He was not sure that there was a clear motive at all. It is necessary to await the results of the investigation.
These made no progress on Saturday for the time being, as the man taken into custody rejected the allegations made against him and also refused to testify for the time being. His client fears that his statements will be misrepresented by the police, Elden explained. The investigators want to have a forensic psychiatric report drawn up.
Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl did not comment on the assessment of the alleged perpetrator by the PST at the media appearance with Minister President Störe on Saturday. It is necessary to await the results of the investigation. The increase in the terror alert level resulted from the fact that a lot was still unclear, she said. She also emphasized that the population should not restrict their freedom of movement, but should “remain vigilant”.
Prime Minister Störe emphasized that Norway sees itself as a diverse and tolerant society. You will never give up these values and you will not be intimidated, there should be no doubt about that. It is important that those behind the attack are held accountable for their actions. But nobody else.