OSLO, Norway — A mass shooting that left two people dead and 14 injured in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Friday night is being investigated as a possible terror attack, police said.
A Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent has been arrested, investigators told a news conference. They added that the suspect was known to police but not for major crimes.
The acting head of Norway’s security services, Roger Berg, called the shooting an “extreme Islamist terrorist act”, adding that the suspect had “a long history of violence and threats”.
He said the man was arrested shortly after the shooting at the London Pub, a nightclub and bar popular with the LGBTQ community in the city and the streets around it.
The authorities of the Scandinavian country have raised the terrorist alert to the highest level.
Police attorney Christian Hatlo said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at multiple locations. The suspect’s mental health was also under investigation.
“Our overall assessment is that there are reasons to believe he intended to cause serious fear in the population,” Hatlo said on Saturday.
A handgun and an automatic weapon were seized in connection with the shooting, police said.
Eyewitness Olav Roenneberg told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK that he “saw a man coming with a bag”, before “taking out a gun and starting shooting”.
“At first I thought it was an air gun. Then the window of the bar next door was smashed and I realized I had to take cover,” Roenneberg said. , journalist.
It was not immediately clear what the motive for the attack was or whether the shooting had anything to do with the Pride parade due to be held hours later in Oslo.
The organizers, however, canceled the parade on the advice of the police.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the shooting “a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people” in a Facebook Publish.
Photographs published by newspaper VG, broadcaster NRK and others showed a large gathering of emergency responders outside the London Pub, including police and paramedics.
Helicopters hovered over central Oslo as ambulance and police car sirens sounded across the city.
Oslo University Hospital said it was put on red alert after the shooting.
Norway is a relatively safe country but has seen violent attacks by right-wing extremists, including one of Europe’s worst mass shootings in 2011, when a right-wing extremist killed 69 people on the island of Utoya after detonating a bomb in Oslo. which killed eight people.
In 2019, another right-wing extremist killed his half-sister and then opened fire at a mosque but was subdued before anyone was injured.