Terrified revelers at a gay bar in Oslo hid in a basement. They called desperately loved ones when a gunman raged, killing two people and injuring 21 on the day the city was to celebrate its annual Pride parade.
Authorities said the suspect, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent, was believed to be a radicalized Islamist with a history of mental illness known to intelligence agencies since 2015.
The attack occurred in the early hours of Saturday, in which victims were shot dead inside and outside the London Pub, a long-standing hub of Oslo’s LGBTQI scene, as well as in the surrounding streets and at another bar in central Oslo. The Norwegian capital.
The deceased were two men in their 50s and 60s, police said in a statement.
Ten people were seriously injured, and 11 had minor injuries.
“Everything indicates that this is an attack by an Islamic extremist,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said at a news conference.
“We don’t know (yet) if the queer community was the intended target, but we know it’s a victim,” he said.
Bili Blum-Jansen, who was at the London Pub, said he fled to the basement to escape the hail of bullets and hid there with 80 to 100 other people.
“Many called their partners and family; it almost felt like goodbye. Others helped calm those who were extremely terrified,” he told TV2.
“I panicked and thought that we would all be dead if the gunman or gunmen arrived. There was no way out.”
Rainbow flags symbolizing the Pride community were prominently displayed in Oslo this week, but Saturday’s planned parade was canceled on the advice of the police.
“Last night, the rainbow was colored black,” said Anette Trettebergstuen, Norway’s culture and equality minister and a prominent advocate for LGBTQI rights.
The suspect was arrested minutes after the shooting started, according to police, who believed he acted alone. She added that two weapons, including a fully automatic pistol, were recovered from the crime scene.
Other witnesses described the chaos that erupted inside and outside the London Pub, which has been open since 1979.
Journalist Olav Roenneberg of the public broadcaster NRK said he was nearby and saw a man arrive with a bag, take out a gun, and start firing: “Then I saw windows smashed and understood that I had to take cover. “
It is unclear exactly where the two people died near the London Pub.
Security authorities have raised the assessment of the terrorism threat in the country after the attack to the highest level.
Norwegian police, normally unarmed, will carry weapons as a precaution until further notice, national head Benedicte Bjoernland said.
The Scandinavian country of 5.4 million has lower crime rates than many Western countries. However, it had suffered hate-motivated shootings, including when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011.