“The whole act appears to be a terrorist act,” said Hans Sverre Sjoevold, head of Norway’s domestic intelligence service, known as PST.
“We do not know what the perpetrator’s motivation is,” Sjoevold said in English. “We have to wait for the result of the investigation.”
He said the suspect was known to the PST, but he refused to elaborate. The agency said the terrorist threat level for Norway remained unchanged at “moderate”.
Regional Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud described the man as a Muslim convert and said that “there had been concerns in the past that the man had been radicalized”, but he did not elaborate or say why he was previously marked or what the authorities did in response.
Norwegian media reported that the suspect had a conviction for burglary and possession of drugs, and last year a court announced a ban on staying away from his parents for six months after threatening to kill one of them.
Svane Mathiassen told the television station NRK that the suspect will be examined by forensic psychiatric experts, which “is not unusual in such serious cases”.
Police were alerted to a man who shot arrows around 6.15pm. Regional prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told the Associated Press that after his arrest, the attacker “clearly described what he had done. He admitted to killing the five people. ”
She said the bow and arrows were just part of his arsenal. Police have not said what else he used, but Voldseth told the AP that as he ran towards the sound of screams, he saw a woman being stabbed by a man with some sort of weapon.
Voldseth said he recognized the attacker and said he lived nearby and “usually walks with his head down and headphones on”.
“I’ve only talked to him a few times, but I’ve had the impression that he might be someone with problems,” he said.
Mass killings are rare in low-crime Norway, and the attack was reminiscent of the country’s worst peacetime massacre a decade ago, when a far-right domestic extremist killed 77 people with a bomb, a rifle and a pistol. Memorials were held in July on the 10th anniversary of these killings.
People have “experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place,” said King Harald V.
“It shakes us all when terrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”
New Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the attack terrible.
Dozens of people saw the killings. Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarket that was attacked, told the AP that he saw shop workers taking shelter in doorways.
“I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what happened and I saw the police move in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight, “said Benum.
Police, along with reinforcements elsewhere, flooded into Kongsberg and blocked several roads. Emergency vehicles’ blue lights and spotlights from a helicopter illuminated the spot.
Thursday morning, the entire city was eerily quiet, Benum said.
“People are sad and shocked,” he said.
Flags were lowered to half-staff, and residents placed flowers, candles and stuffed animals around a makeshift memorial in a central square.
Mayor Kari Anne Sand described the last 24 hours as a “nightmare”.
“The city was attacked last night and five people died. I think most residents are pretty shocked that something like this could happen here. This is a quiet city, a quiet municipality, ”she said, adding that health and social workers are working to care for those in need.
The main church in Kongsberg was also open to those who needed comfort.
“I do not think anyone expects such experiences. But no one could imagine that this could happen here in our small town, “Pastor Reidar Aasboe told AP.
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