Two killed in Oslo ‘terror attack’: What we know so far

Two people were killed and 21 others wounded in shootings at several bars in central Oslo in the early hours of Saturday in an incident described by police as a "terrorist attack". Here's what's known about what happened, the suspect and possible motive. 

A file photo of a police officer in Norway
Two people have died and 21 were injured in a shooting in Oslo last night. Pictured: A file photo of a Norwegian police officer outside the Nobel Institute. Photo by Tobias Schwarz / AFP

What happened? 

A shooting took place at around 1:00 am local time in three locations, including a gay bar in central Oslo.

Police received the first reports at 1:14 am, and the suspect was arrested five minutes later, he said.

The shootings happened near the London Pub gay club, the Herr Nilsen jazz club and a takeaway food outlet.

“He looked very determined about where he was aiming. When I realised it was serious, I ran. There was a bleeding man lying on the ground,” a woman who saw the incident told the Verdens Gang newspaper.

According to an NRK radio journalist present at the time of the shooting, the shooter arrived with a bag from which he pulled out a weapon and started firing.

21 people were injured in the attack. Ten received serious injuries, while 11 people received slight wounds. 

“Some are described as seriously injured, others as more lightly injured,” police official Tore Barstad said. 

READ ALSO: Two killed and 21 wounded in Oslo bar ‘terror attack’

Was it a terrorist attack? 

Police have said in a statement that the shootings are being investigated as a terrorist attack. 

“There is reason to think that this is about hate crime. That is one of the hypotheses,” Christian Hatlo, a prosecutor for the police, said at a press conference on Saturday morning. 

NRK reports that the man is not cooperating with police but that his home has been searched. 

Two weapons were seized from the suspect, an automatic weapon and a handgun. 

What do we know about the suspect?

The shooter’s name has not yet been released. However, the man, 42, has been charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorism, police said in a press conference on Saturday morning. 

According to the police, the man is a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin. The suspect is believed to have acted alone. 

“Now everything indicates that there was only one person who committed this act,” police official Tore Barstad earlier told a press briefing.

The man was known to domestic intelligence services and had had brushes with the law for minor infractions like knife and drug possession, police told a press conference, without naming the suspect.

PST, which handles counter-terrorism in Norway, said that it would hand over any information it had on the suspect to police. 

“We now contribute all relevant information we have to Oslo PD, and work to clarify whether more acts of violence may be planned. So far, we have no indications of that,” PST said on Twitter

“Cruel and deeply shocking”

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has described the attack as “a cruel and deeply shocking”.

“My thoughts go to the victims and their relatives. We do not yet know what was behind this terrible act, but to the members of the LGBT community who are now scared and in grief, I want to say that we are all with you in this,” Støre said in a brief statement to newswire NTB.

The London Pub, the location for one of the shootings, said the attack was “pure evil” in a post on its Facebook page

Former PM Erna Solberg called the shooting an “attack on love”. 

“The shots outside the London Pub in Oslo are an attack on love. It is an attack on the freedom to love whoever you want,” she said in a statement. 

Oslo pride cancelled

The Pride march that was due to take place in Norway’s capital Oslo on Saturday afternoon has been called off. 

“All events linked to Oslo Pride have been cancelled” following “clear” recommendations by police, the march’s organisers wrote on Facebook.

Organisers of the event have asked people who planned to participate in Oslo Pride Festival not to show up. 

A statement from Oslo Pride on Facebook in light of last night’s shooting.

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Norway’s most common phone and internet scams and how to avoid them

People living in Norway are often targeted by phone and online scams. A recent Norstat survey shows that as many as 92 percent of Norwegians have received e-mails, SMS messages, or phone calls from scammers.

Norway's most common phone and internet scams and how to avoid them

If you live in Norway, chances are high that you have been contacted by fraudsters who attempted to get hold of your personal information. 

Available data points to Norway being more exposed to scams than neighbouring countries. When it comes to phone scams, in January of 2022, Telia blocked 4 million potential “wangiri” scam calls in Norway, compared to 2.6 million in Sweden, 2.2 million in Denmark, and 450,000 in Finland.

Wangiri means “one (ring) and cut” in Japanese. The scammers who use this method often hang up before people have time to pick up the phone. They make money when people call back, as callers are re-routed to a premium rate number overseas and charged for the expensive call.

Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by Norstat for the Frende Forsikring insurance company shows that as many as 92 percent of Norwegians received e-mails, SMS, or telephone calls from fraudsters.

According to the survey, 11 percent of people who received such calls talked to the scammers, and a small proportion also clicked on SMS links. 

Real-life examples of scams

So, what do such scam attempts look like? The Local spoke to two people living in Norway who have been targeted by scammers.

Egor Gaidukov, Assistant Operations Manager at Bulandet Miljøfisk AS, told us that the scammer who contacted him via phone was easy to identify due to the language he used.

“I was called by a Russian-speaking man pretending to represent DNB. For context, I’m also a Russian speaker. He said that 700 kroner was withdrawn from my bank account to an Apple wallet,” Gaidukov says, adding that it was not difficult to see that the man was a scammer.

“The way he talked was different from how real bank representatives speak. In addition, I have the experience of talking to other scammers before. Also, it’s strange that a bank officer speaks Russian in Norway,” he points out.

Bergen-based website designer Mykola Blohkin was recently targeted by scammers pretending to be Microsoft employees.  

“I got a call from a UK phone number. It was weird, but I actually have a friend from England who lives here in Bergen, so I thought it might be him. Instead, it was a guy with what sounded like a strong Indian accent that started explaining how he was working at Microsoft and that I had some dangerous viruses on my computer. I work in the IT industry and haven’t used Windows OS for at least ten years, so it was rather funny to hear about viruses,” Blohkin explains, adding that he has a few rules that help him stay protected from frauds:

“I rarely pick up my phone if I get calls from abroad. Even when it’s local Norwegian numbers, I try to Google them first. My rule is: if it’s important, people will send me an SMS briefly explaining the situation.”

Most common scams in Norway: Hacked accounts and phishing

In order to get more information on the most common scams in Norway in the last year, The Local reached out to NorSIS, an independent organisation committed to raising awareness about threats and vulnerabilities regarding information security. 

Specialist manager Karoline Tømte at NorSIS told us that the most common inquiries they got in the last year involve hijacked and “hacked” accounts. 

“In 2021, we registered 740 cases of hacked Facebook accounts and 185 cases of hacked Instagram profiles. We also received inquiries about phishing attempts both by SMS and e-mail. In this type of fraud, scammers send out an SMS that appears to come from well-known companies and agencies such as the Tax Administration and the logistics company DHL,” Tømte pointed out.

“Scammers also often try to get Bank-ID or other payment information, with the goal of acquiring financial gain or collecting personal information for later use,” she added, warning that scammers are becoming more sophisticated and cunning. 

Safety tips

Økokrim’s latest threat assessment states that the number of criminal networks targeting Norwegian bank customers has increased from between three and five before the pandemic to between 15 and 20 at the moment. 

As fraudsters operating in the Norwegian market adapt and advance their methods, people must remain vigilant and attentive to detail.

Here are some safety tips – compiled from NorSIS and other publicly available security resources – that can help you minimize risk and secure your personal information:

1. Official entities in Norway rarely ask for personal information via phone

Generally speaking, the Norwegian authorities will not call you to request personal information. That is why, for example, the Tax Administration sends an SMS to citizens, asking them to log in to their website when they have to provide personal information. Most agencies and reputable companies do the same. To be absolutely sure that the website is correct, NorSIS recommends going directly to the website.

2. Ask for the name and title of the caller

If you are called by the Norwegian authorities and are unsure whether the caller is legitimate, ask for the name and title of the caller. Then, feel free to call the switchboard or contact another channel to check the background of the caller.

3. Stay vigilant

NorSIS advises people in Norway to be a little critical of inquiries they receive. Scammers often use social manipulation, temptation, fear, and trust. They usually have information about your property history, housing conditions, and your ID number. According to Tømte, it is a good idea to hide your friend lists on Facebook so that your contact network cannot be used. Scammers adapt to different situations and seasons and often strike when people are on holiday and are less attentive. Keep that in mind the next time someone contacts you and tries to tempt or scare you into something.

4. Delete messages and reject calls from foreign numbers, don’t click on links

Be wary of unexpected inquiries that pop up out of nowhere. Do not click on links or open attachments if you don’t know the sender. Most people delete messages with links from unknown numbers and decline calls from unknown foreign numbers. That is often the correct response.

5. Passwords, PINs, and two-step verification

Protect all your accounts with a unique password so that, if your password is leaked, not all your accounts will be threatened. Never share your passwords or PINs with others. Use 2-step verification for extra protection of your accounts.

6. Keep track of your bank accounts, protect your BankID information

Keep track of your bank accounts. Contact the card issuer or block your card if you see unexpected account activity. Never share your BankID information with others. 

7. Keep your anti-malware software updated

Make sure you have up-to-date anti-malware software to protect you. If you open malicious attachments or links, updated software could offer some protection.