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Man with bow and arrows kills five in Norway

by The New York Times | October 13, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

OSLO, Norway -- A man armed with a bow and arrows went on a rampage in a Norwegian town outside Oslo on Wednesday, killing five people and wounding two others in the deadliest attack in Norway in a decade, the authorities said.

The police said they had taken a suspect into custody after the attack in Kongsberg, a town of 26,000 people about 50 miles southwest of Oslo. But the killings left a country where murder is rare, and the police usually unarmed, on edge, as Norwegians waited to learn what had happened -- and why.

"The incident has left us all shaken," Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. "The news is terrifying. I understand that people are getting scared."

The authorities said they had yet to establish a motive. "I emphasize that we do not know if it is terror or not," Solberg said.

An assistant police chief, Oyvind Aas, said investigators were not searching for accomplices. "The information we now have, this person carried out these actions alone," he told reporters.

The attack began shortly after 6 p.m., when the assailant began making his way through the center of the town. The authorities, after urging residents to seek shelter inside, apprehended the suspect about a half-hour later.

The killings mobilized public officials and services nationwide. Hospitals were put on alert, as was the Justice Ministry. Specialized national police units were summoned, and helicopters circled overhead. Across the country, the Norwegian police were given authorization to carry weapons "due to the serious incident in Kongsberg," the authorities said in a statement late Wednesday.

Officials described it as a precaution. "The police currently have no concrete indications that there is a change in the threat level in the country," the statement said.

The authorities did not immediately release information about the suspect.

"It is natural to consider if it is a terror event," Aas said at a news conference, adding that it was "too soon to say for sure what the man's motivation is."

The assailant ranged over a broad swath of the city, leaving investigators with an extensive crime scene to scour. One witness, Kjetil Stormark, who is editor of a national security news site, said the police had secured a supermarket where part of the attack was said to have taken place and a section of a street.

The authorities said they were looking into whether another weapon, a knife, may also have been used in the attacks. An off-duty police officer who was not in uniform was among those injured in the attack, the authorities said.

Murder is rare in Norway. In a country with a population of a bit more than 5 million, there were 31 murders in 2020, most involving people who knew one another.

But the attack Wednesday came just months after Norwegians marked a somber anniversary: One decade ago, the country suffered its deadliest attack since World War II. In July 2011, a right-wing extremist detonated a bomb in Oslo and then went on a shooting rampage at a political summer camp for young people on the small island of Utoya. In all, 77 were killed.

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In the years since the massacre, Norway has struggled to reckon with the trauma and been forced to grapple with painful questions of what could cause an individual to veer so far from the democratic principles that, along with revenue from fossil fuels, have given Norwegians one of the world's highest standards of living.

While that was the worst recent episode in the largely peaceful country, a little more than two years ago, a young man entered a mosque near Oslo armed and wearing body armor and a helmet before being overpowered by a worshipper. The man had first killed his sister, the police said, and he was sentenced for that murder.

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The Norwegian authorities have expressed concern that not enough is being done to root out right-wing extremism, especially among young people. In July, analysts with the country's intelligence services warned that a decade after the Utoya attack, there are young men and boys who idolize the gunman.

On Wednesday, as helicopters hovered over Kongsberg and investigators worked their way through the streets, residents expressed horror and disbelief that their country, and this time their hometown, could be the target of such violence.

"This is a tragedy, completely terrible," said Mayor Kari Anne Sand. "This is the kind of thing you believe cannot happen in Kongsberg. Now we just have to handle it in the best manner possible."

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Print Headline: Man with bow and arrows kills five in Norway

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