Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish national, has been charged over the killing of five people in an attack in Kongsberg, southeastern Norway, in what the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) have described as an “act of terror”.
“The events in Kongsberg currently appear to be an act of terror, but the investigation… will determine in closer detail what the acts were motivated by,” PST said in a statement.
At an earlier press conference on Thursday, the police said that they had been in contact with the man previously over their fears he had been radicalised and confirmed he had converted to Islam.
“We’re talking about a convert to Islam,” Norwegian police official Ole Bredrup Saeverud told reporters on Thursday, adding: “There were fears linked to radicalisation previously.”
Reports that linked him to radicalisation pre-dated this year, Saeverud said.
“We haven’t had any reports about him in 2021, but earlier,” he added.
Norwegian public broadcaster NRK are reporting that the man has previously been convicted of burglary and purchasing a small quantity of hashish. The media outlet have also reported that the man was handed a restraining order last year. These reports have not been confirmed by Norwegian police.
According to Norwegian media, the suspect was answering police questions whilst police official Saeverud said the 37-year-old suspect had confessed during questioning.
“He is cooperating and is giving detailed statements regarding this event,” his defence lawyer Fredrik Neumann told public broadcaster NRK.
In addition to the five people that were killed, a further three were injured.
Kongsberg attack: What we know so far
Police first gained a visual on the attacker at 6:18pm Wednesday and were shot at with the bow and arrows. They then lost contact with the 37-year-old, senior officer Ole Bredrup Sæverud said at a briefing on Thursday.
He was arrested at 6:47pm. The fatalities are thought to have occurred between 6:18pm and 6:47pm, meaning the killings took place after police first came into contact with the attacker. That is according to reports in several Norwegian media including NRK.