Norway announced on Saturday that it would conduct an independent investigation into the actions of police and security agencies after a bow and arrow attack that killed five people and injured three others. Police were criticized for reacting too slowly to stop the massacre, acknowledging that five deaths occurred after police first encountered the attacker.
Norway’s domestic intelligence agency, abbreviated as PST, said it had decided to conduct a review after consulting with the country’s national and regional police commanders about Wednesday night’s attack in the southern city of Kongsberg. did. A 37-year-old local resident, who has confessed to the murders by the police, has been taken into custody and is undergoing a mental evaluation.
“Given the gravity of the matter, it is very important that learning points and any vulnerabilities and errors are quickly identified so that measures can be implemented promptly,” PST said in a statement.
Norwegian media have questioned how long it took for officers to apprehend suspect Aspen Andersen Brathen after the regional police department received a report about a man shooting arrows at a supermarket. According to a police timeline, the attack was first reported at 6:13 pm and Anderson Brathen was apprehended at 6:47 pm.
Officials have not disclosed what exactly happened during that 34-minute period.
In general, police officials say that the first officers at the scene saw the suspect, but when arrows were fired at them they took cover and called for reinforcements. Authorities have acknowledged that the armed suspect fled and then killed five victims, aged between 52 and 78, outside and some inside the apartment.
Norway is one of a few dozen countries in the world where law enforcement officers do not automatically own guns, although they have increasingly access to guns and other weapons depending on the situation. Officials said in a statement that police were unarmed during their first encounter and later armed during their encounter with Anderson Brathen.
Officials said one of the injured was an off-duty police officer killed inside a supermarket, and all the injured have been discharged from hospital.
The alleged attacker was known to the police before the deadly attack. Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reported that PST security officials received information about Andersen Brathen in 2015 and that agents interviewed him in 2017 to determine whether he posed a threat. The following year, the agency contacted Norwegian health authorities about her and concluded she suffered from a serious mental illness, NRK said.
VG newspaper also reported that the agency thought Andersen Brathen could conduct a “low-scale attack in Norway with simple means”. PST did not comment on that report.
Police said on Saturday that their suspicions that the suspect’s mental illness led to the attack had been strengthened, while Anderson Brathen’s statement of converting to Islam had become a low-key investigation line.
“He himself has said that he has converted to Islam. It’s a hypothesis, but it’s also a hypothesis that he didn’t. Police Inspector Per Thomas Ohmholt said at a news conference on Saturday, “The investigation so far shows that he has not done it (transformed) seriously.”
Ohmholt said Friday that three weapons, including a bow and arrow, were used in the attack, but he declined to further identify the weapons or explain how the ongoing investigation led to the deaths of the five victims.
A spokesman for Norway’s Muslim community told NRK that it was irresponsible for police to publish the suspect’s self-proclaimed conversion, as they did on Thursday.
“It hurts, it is very painful,” Waqar Dar told NRK. “There are a lot of young Muslims who write to me and say they feel bad. They love Norway but feel they have not been loved back. “
Justice Minister Emilie Anger Mehl, who took office on Thursday along with the rest of Norway’s new centre-left government, has yet to comment on the police handling of the attack.
“Now it is important that the police conduct a review and investigate the matter thoroughly,” she told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.
Norwegian police on Saturday identified the four female victims as 52-year-old Andrea Meyer; Hanne Englund, 56; Liv Berit Borge, 75; and Gun Marith Madsen, 78. The victim was identified as 75-year-old Gunnar Erling Sauve.
Norwegian media reported that many of them were part of Kongsberg’s community of thriving artists. NRK described Englund as a highly respected potter and artist who ran a gallery and lived in Kongsberg. Madsen was a self-taught painter and Borges held board positions at local non-profit arts organizations.
Sauv had a long career as a local judge and previously worked for the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment. He was Borge’s accomplice, NRK said. Mayer had moved from her native Germany to Norway several years ago.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette Marit will visit Kongsberg on Sunday and attend a memorial service for the victims at the city’s main church.
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