Two people were killed and at least 19 more were wounded when a gunman opened fire at an LGBT nightclub in the Norwegian capital city of Oslo on Saturday morning.
The New York Times reported the early morning attack targeted people at the London Pub, which is a hub for LGBT nightlife in Oslo. The attack came as the city was preparing to host its LGBT pride parade later on Saturday. The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) said authorities apprehended a suspect and they believe he was motivated by Islamic extremism, adding that they are treating the attack as terrorism.
“The perpetrator is previously known to PST,” the Norwegian security service said. “He has a long history of threats and violence. Our service has known him in connection with Islamic extremism since 2015 for possible radicalization and connections to an extreme Islamist network.”
“PST talked to the perpetrator in May of this year, as he had shown interest in demonstrations and manifestations perceived as insults to the religion of Islam,” PST added. “Our assessment, after talking to the perpetrator, was that he did not have violent intentions. In addition, we have information that the perpetrator possible struggles with mental illness. Our assessment is that this was an attack motivated by extreme Islamism. We are actively working to clarify the scope of the perpetrator’s ideological beliefs, and potential links to other Islamic extremists or extreme networks.”
PST said it recovered two weapons from the suspect.
As a result of the shooting, Norwegian security services raised the Terrorism Threat Scale from a level 3 “moderate threat of terrorism” to a level 5 “extraordinary threat situation.”
“Experience has shown that completed terrorist attacks might inspire others to plan and commit further terrorist attacks,” PST said. “Our focus now is to prevent potential follow-up attacks. To clarify, we hold no information of that as of now.”
On the advice of the authorities, organizers for the Oslo LGBT pride parade announced they had canceled the parade and other related events. Oslo Pride added it “implores anyone” who had planned to participate in the parade not to show up.
“Today we were supposed to celebrate love and freedom,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said. “Instead, we are filled with sorrow. Oslo has experienced a brutal attack, killing innocent people. We stand united, proud of our diversity. We will never allow extremists to have it their way.”
Despite the cancellation of the LGBT pride parade and other related events and the request from parade organizers not to come out to the event, the Washington Post reported a “spontaneous march” formed in the afternoon with crowds carrying rainbow flags and paying tribute to the victims of the attack earlier in the day.