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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Kongsberg: Bow and arrow suspect known to Norwegian police


A man arrested over a deadly bow and arrow attack in Norway had converted to Islam and there were fears he had been radicalised, police say.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen is accused of killing four women and a man in the southern town of Kongsberg on Wednesday night.

Last year, police contacted the man about their concerns.

The suspect has not been identified, and police are investigating whether or not it was a terror attack.

Flags were flown at half-mast on Thursday, and flowers and other memorials were placed in Kongsberg’s main square.

Regional police chief Ole Bredrup Saeverud told reporters that the victims were all between the ages of 50 and 70.

Residents have told local media that the violence has deeply shaken their close-knit community.

Six minutes after the attack began at 18:12 (16:12 GMT) on Wednesday, police confronted the man, but he shot several arrows at them and fled. He was apprehended at 18:47, 35 minutes after the attack began.

All five victims are believed to have been killed after the police encountered the man for the first time. Officers fired warning shots before he was apprehended.

The attack was Norway’s deadliest since far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people, most of them teenagers, on the island of Utoya in July 2011.

‘People ran for their lives’

The assault was allegedly carried out inside a Coop Extra supermarket on Kongsberg’s west side. An off-duty police officer who was in the shop at the time was among those injured.

The officer and another person who was injured are being treated in a hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

According to one eyewitness, she heard a commotion and saw a woman take cover, followed by a “man standing on the corner with arrows in a quiver on his shoulder and a bow in his hand.”

“Following that, I saw people fleeing for their lives. One of them was a woman who was holding a child’s hand “She continued.

According to the Norwegian news agency NTB, the attacker used other weapons during the incident, but no further details were provided.

Authorities cordoned off several parts of town as the suspect moved across a large area.

Residents were ordered to remain indoors while authorities investigated the scene and gathered evidence. Sniffer dogs were used to search the surrounding gardens and garages.

‘The atmosphere here has darkened’

Kongsberg Mayor Kari Anne Sand said it was a shocking attack in a densely populated area, and that a crisis team would assist anyone who was affected.

Ms Sand described the town as “a completely ordinary community with completely ordinary people,” adding that “this very tragic situation” had left everyone deeply shaken.

Fiona Herland, a British woman who has lived in Kongsberg for five years, described it as “a very warm, cosy place – nothing happens here.”

“This is utterly devastating. You can tell the atmosphere has darkened here “She told the BBC about it.

The suspect was taken to a police station in Drammen, where his defence lawyer, Fredrik Neumann, said he was interrogated for more than three hours and was cooperating with authorities.

According to him, the suspect was born in Denmark to a Danish mother and a Norwegian father. Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s Prime Minister, has stated that Danish authorities will collaborate with their Norwegian counterparts on the investigation.

Ann Irén Svane Mathiassen, a police prosecutor, told TV2 that the man had lived in Kongsberg for several years.

The attack occurred on the last day of the conservative government of then-Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store was sworn in as Norway’s new Prime Minister on Thursday morning, leading a center-left coalition.

Mr Store called it a “gruesome and brutal act.”

In Norway, bows and arrows are not considered illegal weapons. It is legal to buy and own them, and owners are not required to register them, though they must be used at designated archery ranges.

After the attack, police officers nationwide were ordered to carry firearms as an extra precaution, but there is “no indication so far that there is a change in the national threat level,” the directorate said in a statement (in Norwegian).

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