Police have taken a lone gunman into custody after he allegedly killed two and wounded 21 at a gay nightclub in Oslo, Norway, early Saturday morning, suspecting Islamic extremist motivations, the The Local reported.
The shooting occurred at the London Pub, a popular gay bar, hours before a city-wide celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the legalization of homosexuality in Norway months before, according to The Wall Street Journal. Oslo police announced in a statement they were investigating the incident as terrorism.
“There is reason to think that this is about hate crime. That is one of the hypotheses,” said prosecutor Christian Hatlo, according to the The Local.
The Police Security Service, Norway’s national security policy body, later said at a press conference it considered the shooting an incident of terrorism motivated by Islamic extremism, Reuters reported.
Police identified the man as a 42-year old Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent, The Local reported. Police said they had encountered the suspect before.
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NRK journalist Olaf Rønneberg witnessed the shooting just outside the London Pub, The Wall Street Journal reported. “I saw a man come to the place with a bag, he picked up a weapon and started firing,” Rønneberg said.
Police said the weapons were unregistered, NRK reported. In 2021, Norway suffered a similar attack.
“The shots outside the London pub in Oslo are an attack on love,” conservative party leader and former Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, according to The Local. “It is an attack on the freedom to love whoever you want.”
Organizers cancelled the scheduled Pride parade Saturday on the advice of the police, but several thousand people still gathered march in central Oslo Reuters reported.
“We encourage the whole of Norway to show solidarity and mark pride at home, in their neighborhoods and hamlets,” Oslo Pride leader Inger Kristin Haugsevje said in a press release, according to Reuters.
The case bears striking similarity to a 2016 incident in Orlando, Florida, when a lone gunman of Afghan descent killed 50 people at a gay nightclub. The perpetrator’s father denied that the gunman was religiously motivated, and authorities could not find a religious motivation.
Due to the time difference, the Oslo Police District could not be reached for comment by posting time.
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