Kongsberg attack: What we know so far

Five people were killed in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday by a man wielding a bow and arrow. Here's what we know so far about the attack, the suspect and his possible motive.

A Norwegian police car.
Kongsberg bow and arrow attack: What we know so far. Illustration photo: John Christian Fjellestad/Flickr

What happened in Kongsberg?

Police in Kongsberg, a town of around 28,000 residents located 80 kilometres to the south west of Oslo, received initial reports about an attacker targeting members of the public with a bow and arrow at 6.13pm on Wednesday evening.

Police first gained a visual on the attacker at 6:18pm 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.

The victims were killed in locations spanning a large area of central Kongsberg, resulting in several crime scenes.

Law enforcement arrived and arrested the suspect just over 30 minutes later at 6.47pm, after what police called a “confrontation”.

They described what happened between those times as “confusing”.

In a statement Norwegian police said: “It was at 18.13 that the police received several messages from people in Kongsberg centre that a person was moving around with a weapon, which was said to have been a bow and arrow.

“The time from when the police received the message and arrived and until he was arrested was confusing. The man was arrested at 18.47, so it took some time from when the first patrol was on site until he was arrested.”

Television footage showed ambulances and armed police in the area. A helicopter and bomb disposal team were also sent to the scene. Broadcaster TV2 reported that the man also had a knife or other weapons.

The website of public broadcaster NRK published an image sent by a witness of a black arrow sticking out of a wall.

The attacks appeared to have taken place at various locations around the centre of the town, including a Coop Extra supermarket.

A woman who witnessed some of the attack, Hansine, told TV2 she had heard a disturbance, then saw a woman taking cover and “a man standing on the corner with arrows in a quiver on his shoulder and a bow in his hand”.

“Afterwards, I saw people running for their lives. One of them was a woman holding a child by the hand,” she said.

Who were the victims?

Little information has been given so far about the victims other than that five were killed and three were left injured. Four women and one man were killed, police have confirmed. All were aged between 50 to 70 the police said a press conference at 10:00am on Thursday. 

One of those injured was an off-duty police officer who happened to be at the scene.

The three injured are not believed to be in a life threatening condition.

What do we know about the suspect?

Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish, national has been charged over the killing, Norwegian police confirmed. Police said Thursday that they had been in contact with the suspect over fears of radicalisation. Police also confirmed that the attacker had converted to Islam. 

His identity was confirmed by police on  Thursday after it was widely reported in the Norwegian press.

Norwegian Police released a statement early on Thursday confirming the arrest and charge of the Danish citizen living in Kongsberg, countering earlier television reports alleging the attacker was a Norwegian man.

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

“The man is a Danish citizen, but lives in Kongsberg. He was taken into police custody in Drammen on Wednesday night.”

“We decided to confirm this information because many rumours were circulating on social networks about the perpetrator of the attack, some [implicating] people who have no connection with these serious acts,” said a police statement.

Police lawyer Ann Irén Svane Mathiassen confirmed on Thursday morning that the 37-year-old Danish citizen “admits the circumstances” of the attack.

“He admits the circumstances. That it is him that undertook the actions he is charged with,” Mathiassen told Norwegian broadcaster TV2. “But the extent to which he will admit his guilt, we must await,” she added.

READ ALSO: Danish citizen charged over Kongsberg bow and arrow attack

Was it an act of terrorism?

 PST, the Norwegian Police Security Service, said on Thursday afternoon that the attack appeared to be terror related. 

“The incidents in Kongsberg currently appear to be a terrorist act, but the investigation will determine in closer details what the acts were motivated by,” PST said in a statement.

The security service said that the attacker was previously known to them. 

What’s the reaction from Norway’s leaders?

Outgoing PM Erna Solberg described the attack as “horrifying” and said the country has been “shaken”.

“The reports that come from Kongsberg tonight are horrible. It is a very tragic situation that affects the Kongsberg community,” Solberg said at a press conference at 10:45pm on Wednesday.

“These events have shaken us,” Solberg added.

Prime minister-elect Jonas Gahr Støre described the killing of five people in Kongsberg on Wednesday night as “cruel and brutal”.

READ ALSO: ‘Cruel and brutal’ – Norway’s political leaders react to Kongsberg attack

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Norwegian police say 24 were targeted in Kongsberg attack

Norwegian police said on Wednesday that 24 people were now being treated as victims of a bow and arrow attack earlier this month in which five people were killed.

Police in Norway say 24 people were targeted in an attack in Kongsberg on October 13th. 5 were killed. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
Police in Norway say 24 people were targeted in an attack in Kongsberg on October 13th. 5 were killed. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

A man attacked members of the public in the town of Kongsberg west of Oslo on October 13th, firing arrows and attacking people at random in their homes.

Main suspect Espen Andersen Bråthen, a Dane living in Kongsberg, was arrested at the scene and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, with police believing mental illness is behind the attack.

“So far we have 24 victims in the case,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told a press conference, giving a total figure for the first time. 

He said the number included the five killed, three who were injured and 16 others who had been “subjected to different events”.

“These are typically attempted murders and attempted woundings, mostly those who were shot at with a bow and arrow,” he said, stressing that the number could change.

Omholt said police were “keeping the door open” on the motive for the attack.

Bråthen had previously said on social media he had converted to Islam, leading to speculation it was a jihadist attack.

But the investigation had “further weakened” the jihadist hypothesis, Omholt said, adding that it was unclear whether or not he had really converted to Islam.

READ ALSO: Norwegian police end emergency carrying of arms