Norway raised its terror alert to the highest level of “extraordinary” Saturday after a gunman in Oslo opened fire in a bar district popular with the LGBTQ community, killing two and leaving more than 20 wounded, AP reports.
According to Norwegian security service PST chief Roger Berg, the series of shootings were an “extreme Islamist terror act,” adding that the gunman, a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, was previously known to police and had a “long history of violence and threats.”
Norwegian public broadcaster NRK’s Olav Roenneberg witnessed the shooting and said, “the man arrived at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting … First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”
Another witness told Norwegian broadcaster TV2 that someone was shooting with a “submachine gun.” Of note, fully automatic weapons are illegal in Norway unless they fall into the collector category.
The 42yo gunman was arrested shortly after he opened fire at three locations in downtown Oslo during the annual Pride festival, and was found to have an automatic weapon and a pistol.
One of the shootings happened outside the “London Pub,” a popular gay bar.
The shootings occurred around 0100 local time and sent partygoers panicking according to unconfirmed footage.
After the attack, Norway raised its terror alert level from “moderate” to “extraordinary” — the highest level. Police advised Pride organizers to cancel a parade on Saturday afternoon.
“Oslo Pride therefore urges everyone who planned to participate or watch the parade to not show up. All events in connection with Oslo Prides are canceled,” Pride organizers said on the festival’s official Facebook page.
Hatlo said the suspect is being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, and terrorism.
“Our overall assessment is that there are grounds to believe that he [the gunman] wanted to cause grave fear in the population,” he said.
Meanwhile, many pride parade participants ignored the official cancellation.