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Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

Norwegian police on Saturday cast doubt on the narrative that the perpetrator of an attack that left five people dead was a serious convert to Islam.

Pictured is a close up of police car in Vestfold. Photo by Vestfold politidistrikt hundepatrulje on Flickr.
Norwegian police cast doubt on Muslim faith of bow-and-arrow killer as he undergoes psychiatric evaluation. Pictured is a close up of police car in Vestfold. Photo by Vestfold politidistrikt hundepatrulje on Flickr.

Police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters the ongoing investigations had reinforced the idea that the suspect, Danish citizen Espen Andersen Brathen who has admitted the killings, had mental health issues.

READ ALSO: LATEST: Kongsberg bow and arrow attack may have been prompted by mental illness

However, “the thinking is that he did not take (the conversion) very seriously. By this we mean that he did not follow or practise the traditions that are common in this culture and religion,” the inspector said.

Website Nettavisen has published a video Brathen allegedly posted to social media in 2017, in which he issued a “warning” and declared his Muslim faith.

Four women and one man died, and three others were injured on Wednesday during the assault in the south-eastern town of Kongsberg.

It was Norway’s deadliest attack in a decade.

Brathen, 37, has been detained in a medical facility pending psychiatric evaluation.

“All the indications are that he chose his victims at random” and acted alone, Omholt said, describing Brathen as “not very social”.

The police also named the dead: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.

The three people injured, who have not been identified, have all been released from hospital.

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KONGSBERG ATTACK

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

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