A 37-year-old man, who was recently converted to Islam by police and who showed signs of radicalization, was charged on Thursday in connection with a bow-and-arrow stampede in the center of a small mining town in Norway, In which five people were killed. People.
Four women and one man were killed in the attack on Wednesday evening. The attacker, who survived an initial confrontation with the police, apparently fired arrows at the strangers.
Regional police chief Ole Bredrup Severud said of the suspect: “We have been in contact with him regarding concerns about radicalization.” He did not provide further details or speculate on the motive.
The victims ranged in age from 50 to 70, Mr Severud said, and two people injured in the attack are expected to survive.
Authorities said Thursday that the suspect, whose name has not been released, is a Danish national who lived in the city. His court-appointed lawyer said he was cooperating with the authorities, but officials declined to speculate about his motive in the attack.
It was the biggest mass murder in Norway since 2011, when a right-wing extremist killed 77 people, most of them teenagers, in a camp.
As the nation resumed Thursday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the violence “horrific”, with police offering more details about the attack.
The first call to police came at 6:12 p.m., with witnesses describing the scene of chaos and unprovoked violence at Kongsberg, a former silver mining village, a supermarket in the city.
A woman told local news outlet TV2 that she had seen people hiding from a man standing by the side of the road with “an arrow in his shoulder and a bow in his hand”. As he fired the arrows, he said, people ran to save their lives.
Officers confronted the attacker only six minutes after the first call to the police. They fired arrows at the officers and fled.
At one point, the attacker crossed a bridge spanning the Neumedalslagen river and cut through the city, a bucolic area that serves as an escape for people seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of Oslo some 50 miles away.
According to the police, as he made his way through the city, he randomly attacked people. One of the injured was an off-duty police officer, and a photo with an arrow in his back circulated widely online.
Police on Thursday asked the public to “please stop sharing the photos”, saying it is “silly and insulting”.
Police said the attacker had used another weapon in the stampede, although they did not provide further details. But it was the arrows that marked the mark of destruction.
At 6:47 pm, police took the suspect into custody – 34 minutes after the violence was first reported.
Ann Irene Sven Mathiassen, a police lawyer, told TV2 that the suspect Lived in the city for many years.
The suspect’s court-appointed attorney Fredrik Neumann said the man was in custody in the nearby town of Drammen and was cooperating with authorities.
Murder is rare in Norway. In a country with a population of just over five million, there were 31 murders last year, most involving people who knew each other.
Yet, the nation has yet to fully recover from the devastating trauma of the 2011 mass killings.
Norwegian authorities have expressed concern that not enough is being done to root out right-wing extremism, especially among young people. In July, analysts from the country’s intelligence services warned that a decade after the 2011 attack, there were youths and boys who idolized the gunman.