The Oklahoman

Norway’s killings seen as act of terror

- Paal Nordseth, Jan M. Olsen and Mark Lewis

KONGSBERG, Norway – Norwegian authoritie­s said Thursday the bow-andarrow rampage by a man who killed five people in a small town appeared to be a terrorist act, a shocking attack in a Scandinavi­an country where violent crime is rare.

Police identified the attacker as Danish citizen Espen Andersen Braathen, 37, who was arrested Wednesday night. They said he used the bow and arrow and possibly other weapons to randomly target people at a supermarke­t and other locations in Kongsberg, a town of about 26,000 where he lived, before he was seized by police on the street.

Police said they believe he acted alone.

“The whole act appears to be an act of terror,” said Hans Sverre Sjoevold, head of Norway’s domestic intelligen­ce service, known as the PST. “We do not know what the motivation of the perpetrato­r is. We have to wait for the outcome of the investigat­ion.”

Sjoevold said the suspect was known earlier by the PST, but he declined to elaborate.

Regional Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud described the man as being known as a convert to Islam and said there “earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalize­d,” but he did not elaborate or say why he was previously flagged or authoritie­s did in response.

Police said four women and one man from ages of 50 to 70 were killed. Three other people were wounded, police said.

Andersen Braathen was being held on preliminar­y charges and will face formal charges Friday.

Mass killings are rare in low-crime Norway, and the attack immediatel­y drew comparison­s with the country’s worst peacetime slaughter a decade ago, when a right-wing domestic extremist killed 77 people with a bomb, a rifle and a pistol.

People have “experience­d that their safe local environmen­t suddenly became a dangerous place,” Norwegian King Harald V said.

“It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”

Newly appointed Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the attack “horrific.”

“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured, and many are in shock,” Gahr Stoere told Norwegian broadcaste­r NRK.

Police were alerted to a man shooting arrows about 6:15 p.m. and arrested him about 30 minutes later. Regional prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen said that after the man’s arrest, he “clearly described what he had done. He admitted killing the five people.”

Dozens of people saw the killings. Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarke­t that was attacked, said he saw shop workers taking shelter in doorways.

“I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what was happening, and I saw the police moving in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight,” Benum said.

On Thursday morning, the town was eerily quiet, he said.

“People are sad and shocked,” Benum said.

 ?? TERJE BENDIKSBY/NTB VIA AP ?? Police work Thursday near the site of Wednesday’s fatal bow-and-arrow attack in Kongsberg, Norway.
TERJE BENDIKSBY/NTB VIA AP Police work Thursday near the site of Wednesday’s fatal bow-and-arrow attack in Kongsberg, Norway.

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