A 37 year-old Danish man in custody after a deadly bow-and-arrow attack in Norway had previously been flagged to police over fears of radicalization, officials said Thursday.
The attack on Wednesday night killed five people and injured two others in Kongsberg, a quiet town about 40 miles southwest of the capital Oslo.
The suspect was a local resident who was a Muslim convert, police said, according to the Associated Press.
“There had previously been concerns of the man having been radicalized,” Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud told a news conference early Thursday.
Police said an “extensive investigation” was underway into the incident, but they had no indication that others were involved.
Norway’s domestic security agency, known by its acronym PST, said later Thursday that the killings “currently appear to be an act of terrorism.”
“The investigation will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by,” it said in a statement. It added that the suspect “is previously known to PST, but PST cannot provide further details about him.”
Four women and one man, all aged between 50 and 70 years old, were killed in the attack, which took place just after 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) in the small town of some 26,000 inhabitants.
The attack began in a local supermarket, but victims were found dead in other locations, some of them inside nearby buildings, the prosecutor for Norway’s southeast police district Ann Irén Svane Mathiassen told NBC News over the phone.
Police believe that the killings may have all happened in the half hour between officers arriving on the scene and capturing the suspect.
The two injured survivors are currently in intensive care. One of them is an off-duty police officer who was inside the supermarket at the time of the attack. Their condition was not immediately known.
Police contact with the suspect had been over both radicalization and other crimes, including threats and violence, said Svane Mathiassen.
The suspect was “cooperating with the police and explaining himself in detail about the incident,” his lawyer Fredrik Neumann told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Wednesday.
He is currently being held on preliminary charges of murder and will appear before a judge on Friday, said Svane Mathiassen.
“We’ve not had anything like this before. It’s a big investigation for us with a lot of people involved,” she said.
“Kongsberg is a small city where a lot of people know those involved. So maybe they know the dead, the injured people, maybe the suspect,” she said.
“This has been a shocking experience for many people.”
Prime Minister-designate Jonas Gahr Stoere, who will take office later on Thursday, called the attack “a cruel and brutal act.”
“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock,” Gahr Stoere told NRK.
Norway is still grappling with the devastating legacy of a terror attack in 2011, when a far-right extremist murdered eight people with a bomb in Oslo city center, and shot dead 69 teenagers at a summer camp at a nearby island.
Associated Press contributed.
Norway bow-and-arrow suspect was flagged for radicalization – NBC News