Norway bow and arrow attacks: Kongsberg killer broke into homes of 'completely random' victims and took their lives, police reveal

14 October 2021, 11:53 | Updated: 14 October 2021, 22:06

The killings of five people in Norway by a man armed with a bow and arrows "appears to be an act of terrorism", the country's security agency has said.

Four women and one man were killed during the rampage in the town of Kongsberg, with a police officer among three others injured.

And police revealed the attacker broke into some of his victims' homes and killed them there, with people seemingly randomly targeted.

"The dead were found outside and were found inside the residential house," police lawyer Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told state broadcaster NRK.

"We have information that the perpetrator entered homes where he committed murder."

Asked if he knew the victims, she said: "According to the information we have, and the way we perceive the case, these are completely random victims."

A statement issued by PST, Norway's security service, said: "The incidents in Kongsberg appear at the moment to be an act of terrorism, but the investigation, which is led by the South-East police district, will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by."

It said the terrorism threat in Norway had not changed from "moderate".

"At the same time, PST is working to investigate whether what has happened could inspire others to commit serious acts of violence, in the form of follow-up actions, revenge actions and more," the statement said, before adding that the service "does not currently have information that that is the case".

"The accused in the case is known to PST from before, without PST being able to provide further details about him."

The attacker managed to get away from officers who initially confronted him after firing arrows at them.

Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen living in Kongsberg, was arrested around half an hour later at 6.47pm local time.

Police believe all the killings happened during that period.

They say the suspect, who has since been charged with the murders, had previously been identified as showing signs of radicalisation and will now be assessed by forensic psychiatric experts.

A since deleted video originally posted on YouTube has surfaced online, in which Braathen discusses having converted to Islam.

Prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Matthiassen said he had admitted carrying out the attack.

Senior officers say the suspect had been convicted several times in the past, and was the subject of a six-month restraining order against two close family members last year after he threatened to kill one of them.

He also had convictions for burglary and for possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2012.

Witnesses described a "shocking" scene after the killings in Kongsberg, with one describing the moment he saw a man with "an arrow in his back".

A number of Wednesday's victims were in the town centre's Coop Extra supermarket when they were attacked.

Kongsberg, a small town of around 26,000 inhabitants, is situated about 41 miles southwest of Oslo.

Local officials said anyone who needed support would be welcome at the town's main church.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere described the attack as "horrific", while King Harald V said in a statement to the mayor of Kongsberg that it "shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it".