Norway arms police in wake of Brussels attacks

Norwegian Police have launched emergency patrols and ordered all officers in Oslo to carry weapons, as they seek to boost security in the wake of Tuesday's terror attacks in Brussels.

Norway arms police in wake of Brussels attacks
A Norwegian policeman bearing arms outside Oslo City Hall ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt/Scanpix
Acting police chief Roger Andresen told the NTB newswire that the decision to arm police was intended to boost confidence in the wake of Tuesday morning’s terror attack in Brussels. 
“We have introduced temporary arming of all patrols carried out by the Oslo police,” said acting police chief Roger Andresen.
“This is because of he unresolved situation in Belgium, both in terms of the scope of the attack and in who is behind it.” 
At least 13 people were killed in the explosions at the airport, according to the latest reports in Belgian media, and several dozens have been left injured. 
Metro operator Stib confirmed 15 casualties in the metro blast and 55 wounded, however unconfirmed police reports claimed the death toll could rise.
The Belgian prosecutor said that the airport explosions were suicide bombings, confirming the fears that the capital was targeted by terrorists.

Foreign Minister Børge Brende called on Norwegians to show solidarity with Brussels. 
“We must stand together,” he said.” This is the capital of Europe. It is democracy.” 
As yet, he said, there had been no reports of Norwegian casualties. 
Meanwhile, Norway’s King Harald sent a message of condolence to King Philip of Belgium. 
“I have with great sadness received the news of the heinous attacks today in Brussels which resulted in many deaths and injuries,” he wrote. 
From November 2014 until the end of this January, Norwegian police carried their service weapons in their belts on the recommendation of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), which feared an imminent terror attack.
At the end of January, a decision was made to go back to keeping arms locked within police vehicles. 


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.