Norwegian police say that a knife-wielding man who allegedly stabbed three people to death during a bus hijacking in rural Norway was a failed asylum seeker who was about to be deported.

The 30-year-old man from South Sudan, who is being treated for knife wounds in hospital, was due to fly to the capital, Oslo, on Tuesday before leaving the country, police officer Aage Loeseth told AFP news agency.

The man, whose name has not been disclosed, is suspected of hijacking a bus and stabbing to death a , 19-year-old woman and two men in their 50s, one of whom was the bus driver.

Police spokeswoman, Eli Anne Tvergrov, said the suspect had been living at a reception centre for asylum seekers in nearby Aardal, a small town in western Norway near the scene of the attack.

He was due to be sent to Spain to have his application for asylum reviewed there, Tvergrov said 

Completely unexpected

The deputy director of the organisation managing the reception centre, Tor Brekke, told AFP that the attack had been "completely unexpected".

"There was nothing to indicate any imbalance, or that he could do this," he said.

The suspect arrived in Norway in April and had been living in the Aardal centre since August 26.

The attacker was overpowered by firefighters who were attending what they initially believed was a traffic accident, police said.

The long-distance bus was on the route between the mountainous Valdres region, a popular area for skiing, and the Norwegian capital.

Source: Al Jazeera