Kongsberg attack appears to be ‘act of terror’

Norway's intelligence service PST said Thursday that an attack that killed five people the previous day seemed to be an "act of terror."

PST have said the Kongsberg bow and arrow attack appeared to be terror-related. Pictured is a Norwegian police van unrelated to the attack.
PST have said the Kongsberg bow and arrow attack appeared to be terror-related. Pictured is a Norwegian police van unrelated to the attack. Photo by Daniel DeNiazi on Flickr.

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.

READ MORE: Who is the Kongsberg attacker and what was his motive?

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.

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US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.