Danish man held after five killed in bow and arrow attacks in Norway

Incident, believed to be act of terror, injures two others

KONGSBERG (Norway) • A 37-year-old Danish citizen who had converted to Islam is suspected of killing five people with a bow and arrow and other weapons in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg, in a rare incident of mass killing in Norway, police said yesterday.

The five people - four women and one man - were between 50 and 70 years old.

Two others, including an off-duty police officer, were wounded in Wednesday's attacks.

The suspect, Espen Andersen Braathen, had converted to Islam and police were worried about signs of his radicalisation, regional police chief Ole Bredrup Saeverud told a news conference.

Norwegian intelligence service PST said: "The events in Kongsberg currently appear to be an act of terror, but the investigation... will determine in closer detail what the acts were motivated by."

The suspect lived in Kongsberg, which is 68km south-west of the capital Oslo and has a population of about 28,000 people.

The death toll was the worst of any attack in Norway since 2011, when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, most of them teens, at a camp.

Images from one of the crime scenes showed an arrow that appeared to be stuck in the wall of a wood-panelled building.

Police first received reports of a man carrying a bow and arrow at 6.12pm on Wednesday. He was observed by a police unit a few minutes later but managed to escape.

The man fired arrows at the police and was apprehended only after a hunt of about 35 minutes.

"It is likely that all the killings took place after the first police sighting of him," Mr Saeverud said.

Braathen is in custody and is believed to have acted alone. He was cooperating with police, although he has not entered a plea.

"He is admitting to the facts of the case," police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen said. "We'll have to see if he also pleads guilty."

Braathen's lawyer, Mr Fredrik Neumann, told public broadcaster NRK: "He is cooperating and is giving detailed statements regarding this event."

On Wednesday evening, Ms Silje Limstrand, a 22-year-old kindergarten employee, was on her way to a Coop supermarket - the alleged site of one of the attacks - when police told her to get away.

"It feels weird, unreal. Kongsberg is a small town where you feel so safe... It is scary," she said, adding that she had not seen the suspect or any of his victims. "It's scary to think that I was there at the same time as the suspect."

Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, who took office yesterday after winning a general election last month, said he had been kept informed by the outgoing government.

"What we've learnt from Kongsberg bears witness to a gruesome and brutal act," Mr Stoere said in a statement to news agency NTB.

Norway's royal family expressed its sympathies.

"We're horrified by the tragic events at Kongsberg," King Harald said in a letter to the town's mayor.

Following the attacks, the police directorate said it had ordered officers nationwide to carry firearms. Norwegian police are normally unarmed, but officers have access to guns when needed.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'Danish man held after five killed in bow and arrow attacks in Norway'. Subscribe