Suspected in Norway bow-and-arrow attack had converted to Islam: Cops

“There were concerns about radicalization … These reports were followed up,” the regional director said

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The KONGSBERG police were concerned about signs of radicalization in the Danish conversion to Islam, which is suspected of having killed five people with arrows and arrows and other weapons in a Norwegian city, a senior officer said on Thursday.

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Flags flew at half mast over Kongsberg where the victims, four women and a man between 50 and 70 years, were killed. Two people, including a police officer on duty, were injured in the attack on Wednesday night.

Kongsberg resident Markus Kultima, 23, who works in a beer shop and lives above the shop, witnessed parts of the attack.

“I saw a man come walking with an arrow in his back,” Kultima told Reuters. He said that it was the officer on duty who told him to go home.

“I had to go in the direction where the guy came from. It was very heavy, says Kultima.

The 37-year-old suspect was detained and is believed to have acted alone, police say. His lawyer said he cooperated with police.

“The events at Kongsberg currently seem to be an act of terrorism,” the security police in PST said in a statement, adding that the investigation will determine the motive.

The suspect, who has not been identified by the police, had converted to Islam and the police had been worried about signs of his radicalization, said regional police chief Ole Bredrup Saeverud to a press conference.

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– The police have previously been in contact with the man in connection with problems related to radicalization. We have not registered anything about him in 2021, but before, says Saeverud.

The man will also have a psychiatric evaluation, police say. A relative of the suspect, who spoke anonymously to the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, described the man as mentally ill and said that the family had suffered threats for several years.

The death toll was the worst of all attacks in Norway since 2011, when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, most of them teenagers in a youth camp.

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The attacks on Wednesday took place over “a large area” in Kongsberg, a municipality with about 28,000 inhabitants in southeastern Norway, 68 km from the capital Oslo. The suspect lives in the city.

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Few details have so far emerged about how the incident developed or about the specific weapons used.

Police have announced that they received reports of a man carrying arrow and arrow at 1612 GMT on Wednesday. He was first spotted by a police unit a few minutes later but managed to escape.

The man fired arrows at the police and he was only arrested after a chase of about 35 minutes.

“It is likely that all the murders took place after the first police officer saw him,” Saeverud said.

Pictures from one of the crime scenes showed an arrow that seemed to get stuck in the wall of a wooden panel.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, on his first day after winning an election last month, said: “My first thoughts are with Kongsberg, those who lost their lives, those who were injured and those who live with the shock.”

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The attack also highlights shortcomings in Norway’s psychiatric care, Stoere said at a press conference.

“The last 24 hours have shown that we have great challenges,” he said. “Every fourth or fifth person referred to (treatment) is rejected.”

Norway’s royal family expressed their sympathy. King Harald said in a letter to the city mayor: “The rest of the nation is with you.”

Those who pay homage to flowers and candles spoke of their shock in a country where such massacres are rare.

“I want to show my sympathy and empathy for everyone who is affected here in the city and throughout Norway, in fact because it affects us all, regardless of who we are – young and old,” says Kongsberg resident Line Leirmo.

The suspected lawyer Fredrik Neumann told NRK that he cooperated and gave detailed statements about the incident.

Police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told the news agency NTB that he had been involved in the attacks, but did not agree to an appeal.

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