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Suspect in Oslo gay bar attack detained

June 27, 2022

A Norwegian court has ordered the suspect in a deadly shooting near a gay bar in Oslo to be detained for four weeks. Police have urged that Pride events in the country be delayed amid security concerns.

People bringing flowers and rainbow flags as tributes to victims of Saturday's shooting
Spontaneous Pride events have taken place in Oslo to honor victims of the shootingImage: Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/REUTERS

A 43-year-old man suspected of carrying out a deadly weekend shooting near a gay bar in the Norwegian capital has been remanded in custody for four weeks on the orders of an Oslo court.

The court said he should spend two of the four weeks in isolation without being able to receive visitors or letters. The period in custody can be extended under law.

Two men were killed and 21 other people injured after the suspect opened fire near the bar in central Oslo early on Saturday morning. The shooting occurred shortly before the city's Pride parade was due to begin.

Norway raised its terrorism threat assessment to its highest level after the attack.

The man, a Norwegian of Iranian origin, will undergo a preliminary psychiatric evaluation to help determine whether he can be held legally responsible for his actions.

Oslo police said one of the victims had been born in 1962 and the other in 1968.

What do we know about the motivation for the crime?

So far, the suspect has refused to reveal the motivation for his actions, which were initially labeled "Islamist terrorism" by Norway's PST domestic intelligence service.

He had been known to the service since 2015 as someone who had been radicalized and had a history of mental illness.

However, the PST said it did not detect any "violent intent" when its services interviewed him last month.

Police say they are still investigating what may have motivated the crime, with ideological reasons, unstable mental health or aversion toward the LGBTQ community all under consideration. 

According to an Oslo District Court ruling obtained by The Associated Press, the suspect is now being held solely on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.

The court added that it "cannot see that it is necessary today to decide whether there is good reason to suspect terrorist intent.''

Policeman in the streets of Oslo after the attack
Norway raised its terrorism alert to the highest level following the attackImage: JAVAD PARSA/NTB/AFP

Pride events canceled

Norwegian police said on Monday that all Pride events across the country should be delayed, citing security concerns following the attack.

National Police Chief Benedicte Bjoernland said in a statement that the queer community was considered part of the "enemy" by extremist Islamists, meaning that Pride events could become targets for other attacks.

Oslo's Pride parade, which had been scheduled to take place for the first time in three years after a break caused by the COVID pandemic, has been postponed indefinitely.

Police had initially approved a planned gathering outside Oslo Town Hall on Monday by the city's LGBTQ community to honor the victims of the attack.

But they later advised organizers to cancel the event, which had been expected to attract a large number of participants.

tj/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)