Five people died and two others were injured in the attack which shocked the peaceful Scandinavian kingdom, already scarred by two far-right attacks in the past decade.
While remaining cautious about the possible motives of this bloody new episode, the police presented Thursday the alleged perpetrator of an archery attack which left five dead the day before in Kongsberg (south-east) as a Dane of 37 convert to Islam with which she had been in contact in the past for “fears of radicalization”. “There have been fears related to radicalization previously,” Norwegian police official Ole Bredrup Saeverud said at a press briefing. These fears, which have given rise to follow-up, date back to 2020 and before, he said.
On Thursday afternoon, the Norwegian security services announced initial findings: “The events in Kongsberg (a town in south-eastern Norway, editor’s note) have the appearance of a terrorist act at this stage, but the investigation ( …) will further clarify what motivated them, “the PST said in a statement.
Arrested shortly after the incident, the suspect is from a small town of about 25,000 residents about 80 kilometers west of Oslo, police said in a statement.
“We decided to confirm this information because many rumors are circulating on social networks around the perpetrator of the attack, some [mettant en cause] people unrelated to the serious acts committed, “she explained.
Heard by the investigators during the night, he must be presented before a judge during the day with a view to his placement in pre-trial detention.
According to his lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, the suspect is cooperative.
“He explains himself in detail and he speaks and cooperates well with the police,” he told reporters.
According to TV2, he admitted the facts. Also according to the channel, the suspect is a man who converted to Islam and has a medical history – which the authorities did not want to confirm.
Police called a press conference at 10:00 a.m. (08:00 GMT).
The attack occurred in several places over a large area of Kongsberg, including a supermarket. It was there that a policeman, who was not on duty at the time, was injured.
Gray areas remain. Apart from the motive for the attack, no information was provided on the victims. And the Norwegian media were also asking why it took the police more than half an hour after the first alerts to arrest the suspect.
The press published photos of black arrows, obviously of competition, lying on the ground or, for one of them, firmly embedded in a wall. And testimonies are starting to emerge.
A woman, Hansine, who partially witnessed the attack, told TV2 that she heard a commotion and saw a woman taking cover as well as “a man around the corner with arrows in a quiver on the shoulder and a bow in the hand “.
“Afterwards, I saw people running for their lives. One of them was a woman who held a child by the hand,” she testified to the channel.
The attack, with an unusual modus operandi, occurred on the last day of the mandate of Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who is due to hand over the reins this Thursday to a new center-left government led by Jonas Gahr Støre, winner of the parliamentary elections of September 13.
“These events are shaking us,” Solberg said at a press conference late Wednesday.
In response to the attack, the Norwegian Police Directorate decided that officers, who are usually unarmed, would carry weapons on a temporary basis across the country.
A traditionally peaceful nation, Norway has in the past been the target of far-right attacks.
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people by detonating a bomb near the seat of government in Oslo, killing eight, before opening fire on a Labor Youth rally on the island of Utøya, causing 69 other victims.
In August 2019, Philip Manshaus also shot in a mosque near Oslo, before being overpowered by worshipers, without causing serious injuries. He had previously racially shot his adopted half-sister, of Asian origin.
Several plans for Islamist attacks were also thwarted.