An act of what authorities call “extreme Islamist terrorism” shook Norway’s capital Saturday. The overnight attack on a gay bar in Oslo killed two and injured at least 21 others. Three of the injured are hospitalized in critical condition.
The nation’s terror alert level was raised to its highest level, from “moderate” to “extraordinary.” Leaders say, however, they do not have an indication that more attacks are coming.
A 42-year old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin was arrested by police in the nation’s capital for what they describe as a possible terrorist attack. Authorities say the suspect has been known to police since 2015 and has a history of mental illness.
Oslo’s annual Pride parade scheduled for later on Saturday was canceled.
Christian Hatlo, the state prosecutor, told reporters that a pistol and automatic rifle were seized. Officials described them as “not modern” but did not elaborate.
The attack is called a “possible act of terrorism” as investigators work to determine if the Pride celebration was the gunman’s target. Police were unable to get the alleged shooter to cooperate in the initial hours after the mass shooting.
At 1:14 a.m. local time, just hours before the annual parade was to begin, calls came in from Oslo’s nightclub district of multiple shots fired. Witnesses report the shooter walked into the bar, pulled a gun from a bag he was carrying, and began firing.
Police reportedly apprehended the shooter within five minutes of the first shots being fired. Many revelers hid in the basement of the London Pub, a popular LGBT hangout, and called loved ones as they waited for the shooting to stop.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store described the mass shooting as “a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.” He assured the LGBT community that all are with them as they mourn this tragedy.
He went on to confirm the alleged assailant was part of an “Islamist environment,” but blame should not be spread beyond him or those behind the attack.
The White House’s John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One that the administration is “horrified” by the mass shooting targeting the LGBT community. President Biden is on his way to Europe for summits with U.S. allies.