- Gunman kills two, injures 21.
- Terrorism threat assessment raised to highest level.
- Suspect was arrested quickly after shooting started.
OSLO: Norwegian police have arrested a man suspected of a “terrorist attack” after two people were killed and 21 wounded in shootings in Oslo on Saturday, causing the city’s march to be canceled.
But despite the official march being called off, thousands spontaneously gathered throughout the day to march through the Norwegian capital in a display of unity also seen at Pride marches across Europe.
The suspect, who was already known to security services, was arrested quickly after the shooting started around 1am (2300 GMT Friday) in central Oslo.
Norway’s domestic intelligence service PST, which is responsible for counter-terrorism, said it was treating the attack as “an act of terrorism”.
The suspect “has a long history of violence and threats,” PST’s chief Roger Berg said.
The suspect had been on the PST’s radar “since 2015 in connection with concerns about his radicalisation” and membership “in an extremist network”, Berg told a news conference.
Intelligence services spoke to the suspect last month, but did not consider him to have “violent intentions”, Berg said.
He added that the PST was also aware the suspect had “difficulties with his mental health”.
The suspect’s lawyer, John Christian Elden, told Norwegian news agency NTB that he expected his client to be put under “judicial observation” to determine his mental state, as is usually done in such cases.
The suspect has, so far, refused to be interviewed by investigators.
Police had earlier said the suspect was a 42-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent.
Norwegian media named him as Zaniar Matapour, describing him as a father of Iranian Kurdish origin who arrived in Norway as a child.
The two victims were men in their 50s and 60s, the police said, adding that the injuries of the wounded were not life-threatening.
Police said they received the first reports at 1:14 am and the suspect was arrested just five minutes later, adding that he has quickly apprehended thanks to the “heroic contribution” of bystanders.
‘Overwhelmed by grief’
Norway’s intelligence services raised the country”s threat level from moderate to “extraordinary”, saying that the situation remained unclear.
They were looking into whether other attacks could be possible but said that for the moment “we have no indication of this.”
Police presence was stepped up throughout the capital and officers — who do not normally carry guns in Norway — were instructed to arm themselves.
The attack led to enhanced security for marches taking place across France on Saturday, the French government said.
French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were among the world leaders condemning the attack.
Norway’s premier Store said: “Today was supposed to be a day to celebrate love and brighten our streets in the colors of the rainbow.”
“Instead, we are overwhelmed by grief,” he told a press conference.
Norway’s King Harald V said in a statement that he was “horrified”.
“We have to gather together to defend our values — liberty, diversity and mutual respect,” he said.
Generally, peaceful Norway was on the scene of bloody attacks on July 22, 2011, when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people.