A man has been charged with terrorism after killing two people and injuring at least 19 outside one of Norway’s largest LGBTQ+ venues in Oslo.
The 42-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts for opening fire outside Oslo’s heaving nightlife district, city police said.
There was gunfire reported at 1:14am local time on Saturday (25 June) in three locations, including the popular queer nightclub London Pub, the Herr Nilsen jazz club and a takeaway
Three of the wounded were seriously injured. Amid a flurry of panic as people fled the venues or hid in basements, 10 people were seriously injured and 11 suffered minor injuries.
Within three minutes OPS Politiet Oslo officers apprehended a suspect, police task leader Toire Barstad told reporters.
No motive was immediately known, Barstad said. He did not identify the suspect and declined to say what type of weapon had been used in the attack.
Christian Hatlo, a lawyer for the police, told reporters the man in custody is a Norwegian citizen from Iran with a record of minor crimes.
Authorities are investigating the shooting as a terrorist attack because of the scale of the crime scene and the dizzying death and injury toll.
“He seems to have had the intention to create fear in the population,” Hatlo said.
Around 40 people had witnessed the shooting. Among them was Olav Ronneberg, a crime reporter for the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
“I saw a man arrive at the scene with a bag, he took up a gun and started shooting,” he told the outlet.
“I was in the outer bar in London when it happened. I just noticed that a shot was fired, and I was hit by a shard of glass,” said a London Pub patron.
“There were more and more and more shots, so I escaped into the inner bar and tried to get as many as possible with me,” he said.
“At first people did not understand what was happening, but then there was panic.”
Police task leader Tore Barstad did not speculate on a motive. (JAVAD PARSA/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)
The shooting cast a spectre of fire in Oslo only hours before the street was set to be heaving with rainbows, cheers and celebration. Raising fears that the shooting may have been timed to target LGBTQ+ Norwegians ahead of Oslo Pride.
Oslo Pride’s annual parade, the highlight of a 10-day-festival that began on 18 June, was scheduled for 12pm Saturday at Spikersuppa, renamed “Pride Park” for the parade.
But organisers confirmed on Facebook that, at the advice of police, all Oslo Pride events have been cancelled.
“We will follow the police’s recommendation and take care of each other. We are sending warm thoughts and love to next of kin, those who were wounded, and others affected,” said Oslo Pride leader Inger Kristin Haugsevje and Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of FRI, the Norwegian Organisation for Sexual and Gender Diversity, in a joint statement.
“We will soon be proud and visible again, but today, we will share our Pride celebrations from home.”