Norwegian who attacked mosque worshippers arrested

Norwegian flag used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: VideoHive]
Norwegian flag used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: VideoHive]

A young Norwegian man arrested in connection with a shooting incident Saturday at a mosque near the capital Oslo is being investigated on suspicion of murder, Oslo police said.

There were no fatalities in the shooting at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum, west of Oslo.

A woman’s body was found in a house in Baerum that was linked to the suspected assailant.

“We are investigating the case as a possible murder,” Rune Skjold of the Oslo police said late Saturday.

“The dead woman is a young woman and was found when police entered the house where the arrested man lives,” he said, declining to detail the relationship between the suspect and the victim.

The body was discovered as the police searched locations and addresses the suspected assailant was linked to, Skjold said.

The suspected assailant had not been questioned as he had been been given medical treatment and no lawyer had been appointed yet, Skjold added.

Skjold said police were checking his online activity and were “aware that he has posted a number of messages on the internet, social media and discussion forums.”

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Broadcaster TV2 reported a message that hailed the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March was posted a few hours before Saturday’s Oslo incident.

Skjold said police were interested in possible information about the man.

So far nothing suggested there were other assailants involved, police said.

Skjold said so far the case was not being investigated as terrorism but underlined that the investigation was wide-ranging.

The suspected assailant sustained minor injuries, as did one of the mosque visitors who had overpowered him, Skjold said earlier.

He did not comment on what caused their injuries or what kind of weapons were found at the scene.

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Oslo police said they would step up their presence at other mosques on Sunday, the start of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, and would also be armed.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg expressed her sympathy with those who had been present at the mosque or were affected.

“It should be safe to go to the mosque, church or other worship places,” she said in a statement.

She added that it was too early to speculate over a possible motive.

Earlier, mosque board president Ifran Mushtaq told TV2 that the incident took place after a handful of members had attended prayers at the mosque.

Mushtaq said three members had stayed behind when the assailant, armed with what appeared to have been two shotguns and a handgun, broke in. “When they saw him come in, two of them took cover.

A third member, in his 70s, acted quickly” and managed to overpower the assailant, who fired some shots, Mushtaq told TV2.

Another mosque member then hit the assailant in the back of the head, he added.

The assailant wore a protective vest, black clothes and knee pads.

Local daily Budstikka reported that the mosque had stepped up its security measures after the deadly Christchurch shooting.

Ikhlaq Ahmad, spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre in Oslo, Norway’s oldest mosque founded 1974, said the incident gives “painful associations” to the Christchurch attacks and to the 2011 attack on a Labour Party youth wing camp that claimed 69 lives.

It was carried out by Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

The Al-Noor Islamic Centre was founded in 1983. (dpa/NAN)

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