Security service says incident being treated as ‘act of terror’
Espen Andersen Braathen, 37, was detained on Wednesday 35 minutes after a killing spree left five people dead in the town of Kongsberg, located near the Norwegian capital Oslo.
Following a health assessment on Thursday, Braathen, who has confessed to the murders, was transferred “into the care of health services”, the police said in a statement on Friday.
Earlier this week, Norwegian police admitted they were aware of Braathen’s radicalisation, following his conversion to Islam. In a video he posted in 2017, the suspect issued a “warning” to all those he said needed “to redeem themselves”.
The PST, Norway’s security services, is treating Wednesday’s attack as “an act of terror” but has not commented further on the tragedy.
The attack is thought to have started in a Co-op supermarket at around 6pm on Wednesday evening, before spanning a much larger area. Police arrived at the scene just before 6.30 pm local time.
The suspect is alleged to have entered numerous private residences, with the victims, who have yet to be officially named, found deceased inside and outside buildings.
Four women and one man aged between 50 and 70 were killed, and a further three people, including a police officer, were injured. The victims’ families have been informed and are being given specialist support.
One student in Kongsberg described how he and his friends spotted the attacker trying to gain entry to their building.
Norwegian student Mohammed Shaban said he saw the assailant try to climb through an open window, before locking themselves in another room.
“We ran into the bedroom to save ourselves and I held on to the door-handle…From the window I saw the man, wearing grey jeans and a white singlet. I saw him from behind,” the 25-year-old told Reuters.
On Friday, a court ruled that Braathen could be held in pre-trial detention for four weeks while investigations continue.
The country’s new prime minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, described the attack earlier this week as “a cruel and brutal act”.
Additional reporting by agencies