Norway Bow and Arrow Attack Leaves 5 Dead

As the country went on alert, the police scrambled to investigate an attack in a town 50 miles outside Oslo.


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OSLO — A man armed with a bow and arrow went on a rampage in a Norwegian town outside Oslo on Wednesday, killing five people and wounding two others, the authorities said.

The attack took place in Kongsberg, a town of 26,000 people about 50 miles southwest of Oslo. A suspect was reported to be in custody.

“The information we now have, this person carried out these actions alone,” the police chief, Oyvind Aas, told reporters.

The attack began shortly after 6 p.m., when the assailant began making his way through the center of the town. Residents were urged to seek shelter inside. A half-hour later, a suspect was in custody, the police said.

Across the country, the Norwegian police, who ordinarily are not armed, were given authorization to carry weapons “due to the serious incident in Kongsberg,” the authorities said in a statement late Wednesday. They 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.

But the attack left the country on edge. Hospitals were put on alert. So was the Justice Ministry.

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

The authorities did not immediately release information about the suspect.

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

Prime Minister Solberg made a similar point.

“I emphasize that we do not know if it is terror or not,” she said.

The assailant ranged over a broad swath of the city, leaving investigators with an extensive crime scene to scour. No police officers were injured in the attack, the authorities said.

Murder is rare in Norway. In a country with a population of a bit more than five 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. Dozens were killed.

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 fuel, have given Norwegians one of the world’s highest standards of living.

While that was the worst such killing in the largely peaceful country, a little over two years ago, a young man was charged with attempted murder after he entered a mosque near Oslo armed and wearing body armor and a helmet. He was overpowered by a worshiper.

As investigators worked their way through the small town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, 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.”

Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.

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