Norway bow-and-arrow attack in Kongsberg 'appears to be act of terrorism'

ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies reports on what has been learnt of the tragedy in the last 24 hours

A bow-and-arrow attack in a small Norwegian town that led to five deaths appears to be "an act of terrorism", the country's security agency said.

A 37-year-old Danish man suspected of killing five and wounding two others had converted to Islam and was previously flagged as having been radicalised, police said.

He is suspected of shooting at people in a supermarket and a number of other locations in Kongsberg on Wednesday evening.

Flowers and candles were left for the victims of the Norway bow-and-arrow attack Credit: Terje Pedersen/NTB via AP

Two of the wounded people remain in intensive care, including a police officer who was off duty and inside the supermarket where the attack began.

The victims were four women and one man between the ages of 50 and 70, the police chief said.

Police identified the suspected attacker as Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen. He lives in Kongsberg and is being held on preliminary charges, not formal charges, in Drammen. He will face a custody hearing on Friday.

Police identified the attacker as Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen.

Police described the suspect as a "Muslim convert" who was on the national security agency PST's radar.

"There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalised," police chief Ole B. Saeverud told a press conference on Thursday.

Police believe the attack was carried out by one person.

An arrow in a wall after the attack in Kongsberg Credit: Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/AP

According to police, the suspect allegedly walked around Kongsberg shooting arrows on Wednesday.

Police were called to the attack at around 6.15pm and arrested a man about 30 minutes later.

Regional prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen said the suspect “clearly described what he had done. He admitted killing the five people.”

She said the bow and arrows were a part of the suspect's collection of weapons.

Police have not said what other weapons were used.

Police cordon off a supermarket in Kongsberg, Norway, after a man killed several people. Credit: Terje Pedersen/NTB via AP

Regional police chief Ole B. Saeverud said: “From what we know now, it is reasonably clear that some, probably everyone, was killed after the police were in contact with the perpetrator."

One witness Erik Benum, who lives near the crime scene, saw supermarket workers sheltering in doorways.

He said: “I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what was happening, and I saw the police moving in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight."

The following morning, the whole town was eerily quiet, he said. “People are sad and shocked.”

Police at the scene of the attack in Kongsberg Credit: Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix via AP

Erna Solberg, who was acting prime minister at the time of the attack, described it as “gruesome” and said it was too early to speculate on the man's motive.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the assault “a cruel and brutal act” in comments to Norwegian news agency NTB.

Norwegian King Harald V said in a statement to the Kongsberg mayor, people have “experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place.

"It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”

The Norwegian flag is flown at half-mast in Kongsberg following the attack. Credit: AP

Parish priest Reidar Aasboe added: “I don’t think anyone expects to have these kinds of experiences. But nobody could imagine this could happen here in our little town."

The community is 41 miles (66km) southwest of capital city Oslo.

City officials invited people who were affected by the attack and their relatives to gather for support at a local hotel. The main church in Kongsberg was also open to anyone in need of support.

According to Norwegian media, the suspect had previously been convicted of burglary and possession of drugs and last year, a local court granted a restraining order ordering him to stay away from his parents for six months after he threatened to kill one of them.

Police work near a site after a man killed some people in Kongsberg, Norway Credit: Terje Bendiksby/NTB via AP

Security agency PS said the terror threat level for Norway, which is "moderate", remains unchanged.

The attack comes a decade after Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist, set off a bomb in Oslo’s government district and then carried out a shooting massacre at the summer camp of the left-wing Labor Party’s youth organisation on Utoya island.

The violence on July 22, 2011, killed 77 people and stunned Norway.         

Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum under Norwegian law, but his term can be extended as long as he’s considered a danger to society.