Norway raises terror alert after shooting

norway-raises-terror-alert-after-shooting

The Norwegian security service raised the country’s terror alert level to the highest level, hours after a gunmen opened fire at an LGBTQI nightclub in central Oslo on the eve of the city’s Pride parade.

The danger of a terrorist threat was “exceptionally” high, the head of the PST security service said.

Roger Berg said the early Saturday shooting, which claimed two lives and injured at least 21 other people, was considered an Islamist-motivated terrorist attack.

Norway’s terrorist alert level is now five. Previously it was three.

The gunman fired in and around the London Pub, a bar and nightclub which bills itself as Oslo’s “gay headquarters since 1979.” Shots were also fired at other venues nearby, in an area of the city known for its night-life.

Witnesses said they saw a man with a bag arrive at the scene, take out a gun and start shooting. Panic ensued.

Members of the public helped in the arrest of the suspect and police later thanked them for their efforts.

Of the 21 people injured, police said 10 were in serious condition. One man who died was in his 50s, the other in his 60s.

Police Inspector Tore Soldal said that the attacker was a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin. They found a pistol and an assault rifle during a search of his flat. Both were unregistered.

The suspect’s defence attorney, John Christian Elden, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK it was too early to speak about a possible motivation and that the man’s mental health needs to be evaluated.

Large areas of Oslo’s party mile were cordoned off on Saturday as police continued their investigations.

People had been celebrating in the city centre late into the long summer evening ahead of the planned Pride parade and bars, restaurants and other buildings were festooned with rainbow flags.

By Saturday evening rainbow flags were flying across the city, including on government buildings and embassies.

Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen had earlier told journalists how much the city was looking forward to the event – it would have been the first time since the coronavirus pandemic erupted.

The parade, which would have been Oslo’s 40th Pride march, was cancelled by organisers on the advice of police. Nevertheless, several thousand shocked and grieving people marched along the planned route in the afternoon, according to Norwegian media.

Oslo shooting: Norway attack being treated as Islamist terrorism, police say

A 42-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts after a shooting in the centre of Norway’s capital, Oslo.

Two people died and 21 were wounded early on Saturday in what police calls an “act of Islamist terrorism”.

The shootings were in and near the London Pub, a popular LGBTQ+ venue, the Herr Nilsen jazz club and another pub.

Norway’s prime minister told the BBC the suspect was questioned in May, but was not deemed a threat at the time.

“We now need to see the result of an investigation,” PM Jonas Gahr Stoere told the BBC’s Newshour programme late on Saturday.

The shooting started at about 01:15 local time on Saturday (23:15 GMT Friday), officials said.

Eyewitnesses said the suspect took out a gun from his bag and started firing, forcing terrified people to either throw themselves to the ground or flee.

The attacker was arrested by police officers – who were helped by bystanders – minutes later. Two weapons were retrieved at the crime scene by police, one of them a fully automatic gun.

The authorities later said the suspect was a Norwegian national.

Of the 21 injured, 10 were in a serious condition.

The terror alert level in Norway has now been raised to its highest level, though the country’s PST intelligence service said it currently had “no indication” further attacks were likely.

Oslo’s annual gay Pride parade was due to be held on Saturday, and was formally cancelled on police advice.

But despite that, hundreds of people marched near the scene later in the day, shouting: “We’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear!”

“I think it’s fantastic that this march is taking place, otherwise he would have won,” one woman in her 50s told AFP news agency.

Rainbow flags and flowers were laid near the scene of the attack, which was sealed off by police tape, and bystanders comforted each other with hugs.

The gunman was known to security services since 2015 as a “suspected radicalised Islamist”, and had a history of mental illness, Norway’s PST intelligence service said.

“There is reason to think that this may be a hate crime,” police said earlier. “We are investigating whether… Pride was a target in itself or whether there are other motives.”

King Harald, Norway’s monarch, said he and his family were “horrified” by the violence. He said “we must stand together” to defend “freedom, diversity and respect for each other”.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she was “shocked by the heinous attack on innocent people”, while French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We stand stronger against hate if we stand together.”

In the US, John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said: “We’re all horrified by the mass shooting in Oslo today targeting the LGBTQI+ community there and our hearts obviously go out to the all the families of the victims, the people of Norway, which is a tremendous ally, and of course the LGBTQI+ community there and around the world,”

Witnesses who were at the London Pub have told how they fled to the basement, where 80 to 100 terrified partygoers were trying to hide.

Bili Blum-Jansen told TV2: “Many called their partners and family, it felt almost as if they were saying goodbye. Others helped calm down those who were extremely terrified.”

Another survivor told how he was hit by flying glass.

“I just noticed that a shot was fired, and I was hit by a shard of glass. There were more and more and more shots, so I escaped into the inner bar and tried to get as many as possible with me,” he told Norway’s public broadcaster NRK.

“I saw a man arrive with a bag, he picked up a gun and started to shoot,” said journalist Olav Roenneberg of public broadcaster NRK, who was in the area at the time.

A woman told the Verdens Gang newspaper that the gunman had taken careful aim at his targets. “When I understood that it was serious, I ran. There was a man covered in blood motionless on the floor,” she said.

Another man told the newspaper he had seen a lot of people on the ground with head wounds.

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Norway raises terror alert after deadly attack on Oslo Pride parade

At least two people were killed and 21 injured in a shooting at a popular gay bar and nightclub in the centre of Oslo, Norway.

The Norwegian security service raised the country’s terror alert level to the highest level, hours after a gunman opened fire at an LGBTQI nightclub in central Oslo on the eve of the city’s Pride parade.
The danger of a terrorist threat was “exceptionally” high, the head of the PST security service said.

Roger Berg said the early Saturday shooting, which claimed two lives and injured at least 21 other people, was considered an Islamist-motivated terrorist attack.

Norway’s terrorist alert level is now five. Previously it was three.

Police said a suspect had been arrested following the shootings, which occurred around 1am (local time) in three locations, including a gay bar, in the centre of the Norwegian capital.

The gunman fired in and around the London Pub, a bar and nightclub which bills itself as Oslo’s “gay headquarters since 1979.” Shots were also fired at other venues nearby, in an area of the city known for its nightlife.

Witnesses said they saw a man with a bag arrive at the scene, take out a gun and start shooting. Panic ensued.

Members of the public helped in the arrest of the suspect and police later thanked them for their efforts.

Of the 21 people injured, police said 10 were in serious condition. One man who died was in his 50s, the other in his 60s.

Police Inspector Tore Soldal said that the attacker was a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin. They found a pistol and an assault rifle during a search of his flat. Both were unregistered.

The suspect’s defence attorney, John Christian Elden, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK it was too early to speak about a possible motivation and that the man’s mental health needs to be evaluated.

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“The police are investigating the events as a terrorist attack,” police said in a statement.

A Pride march that was due to take place in the capital on Saturday afternoon was called off following the violence in the normally tranquil city.

“All events linked to Oslo Pride have been cancelled” following “clear” recommendations by police, the organisers wrote on Facebook.

Large areas of Oslo’s party mile were cordoned off on Saturday as police continued their investigations.

Police received the first reports at 1:14 am and the suspect was arrested five minutes later, he said.

The shootings happened near the London Pub gay club, the Herr Nilsen jazz club and a takeaway food outlet.

Heavily armed police equipped with bulletproof vests and helmets were patrolling the scene of the shootings.

‘Bleeding man on the ground’

“He looked very determined about where he was aiming. When I realised it was serious, I ran. There was a bleeding man lying on the ground,” a woman who saw the incident told the Verdens Gang newspaper.

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Another witness quoted by the paper mentioned the use of an automatic weapon, which the police did not confirm.

“There were a lot of injured people on the ground who had head injuries,” he said.

According to an NRK radio journalist present at the time of the shooting, the shooter arrived with a bag from which he pulled out a weapon and started firing.

Eight people were taken to hospital and six others were taken care of by a medical service.

“Some are described as seriously injured, others as more lightly injured,” said Mr Barstad.

Generally peaceful Norway was the scene of bloody attacks on 22 July 2011 when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people.

He first detonated a bomb near the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people.

He then disguised himself as a policeman and went on a shooting spree at a summer camp for left-wing youth on the island of Utoya, killing another 69 people — most of them teenagers.

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