OSLO, Norway – A gunman opened fire Saturday morning in Oslo’s nightlife district, killing two people and injuring 10 seriously in what police are investigating as a possible terror attack during the annual Pride festival in the city. Norwegian capital.
Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo.
While the motive was unclear, Oslo Pride organizers canceled a parade scheduled for Saturday as the culmination of a week-long festival. One of the shootings occurred outside the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community, just hours before the parade was due to start.
Police attorney Christian Hatlo said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at multiple locations.
“Our overall assessment is that there are reasons to believe he intended to cause serious fear in the population,” Hatlo said.
Hatlo said the suspect’s mental health is also being investigated.
“We need to go through his medical history, if he has any. It’s not something we’re aware of now,” he said.
The shootings occurred around 1 a.m. local time, sending panicked revelers fleeing through the streets or trying to hide from the shooter.
Olav Roenneberg, a journalist with Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.
“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He took a gun and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK. “At first I thought it was an air gun. Then the window of the bar next door was smashed and I realized I had to run for cover.”
Police Inspector Tore Soldal said two of the victims had died and 10 people were being treated for serious injuries, but none of them were in mortal danger.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a Facebook post that “the shooting outside the London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people”.
He said that while the motive was unclear, the shooting had caused fear and grief in the LGBTQ community.
“We are all on your side,” wrote Gahr Stoere.
Christian Bredeli, who was at the bar, told Norwegian newspaper VG he hid on the fourth floor with a group of around 10 people until he was told it was safe to come out.
“Many feared for their lives,” he said. “On the way out, we saw several injured people, so we understood that something serious had happened.”
Norwegian broadcaster TV2 showed footage of people running through the streets of Oslo in panic as gunfire rang out in the background.
Investigators said the suspect was known to police, as well as Norwegian security police, but not for major violent crimes. His criminal record included a narcotics offense and a weapons offense for carrying a knife, Hatlo said.
Hatlo said police seized two weapons after the attack: a handgun and an automatic weapon, which he described as “not modern” without giving details.
He added that the suspect had not given any statement to the police and was in contact with a defense lawyer.
Hatlo said it was too early to tell if the shooter specifically targeted members of the LGBTQ community.
“We need to take a closer look at this, we don’t know yet,” he said.
Yet police have advised Pride festival organizers to cancel the parade on Saturday.
“Oslo Pride therefore urges anyone who had planned to participate in or watch the parade not to show up. All Oslo Prides related events are cancelled,” organizers said on the event’s official Facebook page.
Norway has a relatively low crime rate but has seen violent attacks by right-wing extremists, including one of Europe’s worst mass shootings in 2011, when a gunman killed 69 people on the island of Norway. Utoya after setting off a bomb in Oslo that left eight people dead.
In 2019, another right-wing extremist killed his half-sister and then opened fire at a mosque but was subdued before anyone was injured.