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POLICE

No slowdown in Oslo rape surge

Two teenage girls emerging from downtown Oslo’s train station were attacked on Saturday evening by five young men in yet another escalation of the capital’s burgeoning rape problem.

The arrest of five Afghan and Pakistani men immediately stoked calls for the creation of a national police sex-crimes unit. Oslo mayor Fabian Stang also called for discussions on a possible curtailment on freedoms for asylum seekers.

The mass attack on the 16-year-old girls braving the station area after dark was reported just hours after hundreds took part in a torchlight protest to “take back the night”, a rally by women’s groups and ordinary citizens for action against sexual assault.

In all, newspaper VG chronicled five rapes over the weekend, including one in which assailants were described as “Scandinavian in appearance”.

Whatever the count of foreigners involved, Mayor Stang weighed in with a call for “dramatic action” after a record year of 48 “after hours” rapes. While he singled out non-western foreigners, he also made it clear that asylum seekers should not be kept confined from the rest of society.

“But in an extreme situation like the one we are now experiencing, we have to be able to discuss adjusting our principles to protect our girls,” Stang told newspaper Aftenposten.

Another newspaper spotlighting rape reported that police numbers show a minority of attackers have been “non-westerners”. Most of 2011’s attackers have not been identified.

“In 2008/2009, we identified 13 assailants behind 35 attacks,” police inspector Hanne Kristin Rohde told Dagbladet.

“Six of those had at some point been asylum seekers and had either received a 'Yes' or 'No' (to residency status)."

Norwegian Directorate of Immigration director, Ida Børresen, meanwhile, said it was worrying that asylum seekers and criminals were being talked about in the same breath.

“That the majority of culprits are described as “non-Nordic” does not mean that they are asylum seekers,” Børresen was quoted by broadcaster NRK as saying.

Under intense public scrutiny since July 2011, when police mobilization became an issue, police have put 20 extra officers onto the capital’s streets in an effort to curb a wave of rapes since the summer.

POLICE

Norwegian police end emergency carrying of arms

The temporary arming of all police in Norway, ordered after an attack in Kongsberg left five dead, ended on Friday morning. 

Police in Norway will no longer be armed after the temporary order was dropped. Pictured is a police van in Oslo.
Police in Norway will no longer be armed after the temporary order was dropped. Pictured is a police van in Oslo. Photo by David Hall on Flickr.

The order for all police in Norway to be armed following an attack in Kongsberg last week was lifted on Friday morning. 

The police said in a statement Friday that, based on the information it had received from police security service PST, there was no longer any basis for maintaining the national armament order. 

“Norwegian police are basically unarmed in daily service, with firearms being stored in police vehicles, and police can be armed in connection with specific missions when needed. In that sense, we are now moving to a normal situation,” Tone Vangen, emergency preparedness director for the police, said in a statement

The police had been armed since last Wednesday following the incident in Kongsberg where Danish citizen Espen Andersen Bråthen killed five with an undisclosed sharp object and shot at police with a bow and arrow.

During police questioning, Bråthen confessed to the killings and to wounding three others. 

Police said earlier this week that the victims were chosen at random. The Danish citizen was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Bråthen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

The 37-year-old had previously announced publicly that he had converted to Islam and police initially reported that there had been fears of radicalisation. 

But police later said that mental illness was to be considered the primary motive for the attack. 

 “As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said to reporters earlier this week. 

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