Who is the person who killed five people with a bow and arrow in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday? The police have advanced some data. It is a 37-year-old man who has already been arrested by law enforcement, who are keeping him in custody in Drammen, where he gave his statement last night. Several independent sources told Norwegian broadcaster TV2 that the man “is a convert to Islam”, however, authorities believe it is too early to say for sure that it is a terrorist attack.
The accused is a Danish citizen, but was born and has lived in Norway all his life. According to information from Norwegian broadcaster VG, he has not worked since the early 2000s. So far, the detainee has cooperated with the police although he has not pleaded guilty. “He is admitting the facts of the case,” police lawyer Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told NTB news agency. “We will have to see if he also pleads guilty” to the deaths of four women and a man in their 50s and 70s.
Police, who took half an hour to arrest the suspect after receiving the first emergency call, told a press conference on Thursday that they had been warned in the past about the radicalization of the accused. He was reportedly a convert to Islam already known to the police, said police chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud. In 2012, the detainee was sentenced to 60 days probation for aggravated robbery and buying and consuming hashish.
The man is believed to live in a neighborhood in Kongsberg and acted alone, but the motives for the attack are unknown at this time. The Norwegian press has reported that the suspect was banned last year from visiting two close relatives after he allegedly threatened to kill one of them. “From what we know so far, it seems clear that the assailant killed some, probably all of them, after he first had contact with the police,” said Sæverud, who called for videos and photos of the attack to stop being circulated on social media.
Crying in Norway
Norway’s royal family expressed its condolences. “We are horrified by the tragic events in Kongsberg,” King Harald said in a letter to the town’s mayor. “The rest of the nation stands with you,” the 84-year-old monarch wrote. The death toll is the most tragic of any attack in Norway since 2011, when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, mostly teenagers at a youth camp.
“This very serious situation is, of course, making a deep impression on Kongsberg and those who live here,” district police chief Oeyvind Aas said in a statement. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked and saddened by the news. “My thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims and all the people of Norway at this very difficult time,” he said in a tweet.
“What we have learned from Kongsberg testifies to a shocking and brutal act,” Norway’s incoming prime minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, said in a statement to the NTB news agency. The unexpected attack caused scenes of chaos and much fear in the Norwegian city. During the pursuit of the individual, in which helicopters and special police forces were mobilized, authorities asked residents to stay indoors after finding that one person had been shot with an arrow.
The Norwegian news agency NTB quoted police as saying that the suspect also used other weapons in addition to the bow and arrows. There was “a confrontation” between officers and the assailant in connection with the arrest, police said, but gave no details.
The two wounded are hospitalized and are in intensive care. One of them is an off-duty police officer who was inside the store.