At least two people have been killed and 21 others wounded when a man opened fire outside a popular gay bar and nearby locations in Norway’s capital Oslo, police said, ahead of a planned annual Pride parade.
Police said on Saturday a suspect had been arrested following the shootings, which occurred at about 1am local time (23:00 GMT on Friday) in three locations, including a gay bar, close together in the centre of the Norwegian capital.
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Norwegian police said that they were treating the deadly shootings as a “terrorist attack” as the organisers cancelled all Pride events planned for Saturday afternoon on the advice of the police.
In a news conference on Saturday, police officials said the man arrested after the shooting was a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin who was previously known to police but not for major crimes.
They said they had seized two firearms in connection with the attack: a handgun and an automatic weapon.
“Now everything indicates that there was only one person who committed this act,” police spokesman Tore Barstad told a press briefing earlier in the day.
Barstad, the police spokesman, said the motive was not immediately known and it was not clear whether the shooting had any connection to the Pride parade.
Oslo was due to hold its annual Pride parade later on Saturday, just months after Norway marked 50 years since the abolition of a law that criminalised gay sex.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a Facebook post said the shooting outside the London Pub was “a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people”.
“We don’t know yet know what is behind this terrible act, but to the queer people who are afraid and in mourning, I want to say that we stand together with you,” he said in a statement to Norwegian news agency NTB.
Among the 14 wounded, eight were taken to hospital and six others were taken care of by a medical service.
Heavily armed police equipped with bulletproof vests and helmets were patrolling the scene of the shootings. Alongside the popular London Pub, shooting took place near the Herr Nilsen jazz club and a takeaway food outlet.
A woman who saw the incident told the Verdens Gang newspaper the assailant “looked very determined about where he was aiming. When I realised it was serious, I ran. There was a bleeding man lying on the ground.”
Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.
“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK. “First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”
Norway, where mass shootings are a rare occurrence, was the scene of bloody attacks on July 22, 2011, when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people.
In October, a man known to have mental health issues confessed to killing five people in a bow-and-arrow attack in the southern part of the country.