Norway mourns victims after Oslo shooting
OSLO, Norway (AP) — Norway’s prime minister and members of the royal family joined mourners at a memorial service Sunday at Oslo Cathedral for the victims of a shooting as the capital staged its annual LGBTQ Pride festival.
A gunman opened fire on Saturday morning in central Oslo’s nightlife district, killing two people – a man in his 50s and another in his 60s – and injuring more than 20 in what security services Norwegian security forces called it an “Islamist terrorist act”.
A suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen from Iran, is in custody. The Capital Pride Parade was due to take place on Saturday but was cancelled.
The crime scene included the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community. Police investigators said it was unclear whether hatred of people based on sexual orientation and gender identity motivated the attack.
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Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a speech at Sunday’s memorial service that “the nighttime shooting ended the pride parade, but that did not stop the fight and the efforts to fight discrimination, prejudice and hatred”.
He also addressed the Muslim community in Norway.
“I know how many of you felt when it turned out that the attacker was from the Islamic community. Many of you have known fear and turmoil. You need to know this: we stand together, we are one community and we are responsible for the community together,” Gahr Stoere said at the church service, which was also attended by Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
Norwegian media identified the suspect as Zaniar Matapour, an Oslo resident who came to Norway with his family from a Kurdish part of Iran in the 1990s.
Matapour had a previous criminal record that included a narcotics offense and a weapons offense for carrying a knife. Investigators said they seized two weapons after Saturday’s shooting: a handgun and an automatic weapon.
Norway’s Internal Security Agency, known by its Norwegian acronym PST, said on Saturday it first learned of the suspect in 2015, then expressed concern that he had become radicalized and part of an unofficial Islamist network. specified.
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On Sunday, Norwegian media reported that Matapour had allegedly been in close contact with an Islamist extremist living in Norway whom Norwegian police had long known about.
The extremist, identified as Arfan Bhatti, was known in part for his strong anti-gay views, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said.
Matapour was suspected of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted in multiple locations.
His attorney, John Christian Elden, who previously represented Bhatti, said his client gave no explanation for his actions.
“It is very difficult to know if there is a motive,” Elden told Norwegian newspaper VG. “It also means being very careful to speculate as to why this (shooting) happened.”
Matapour’s questioning by police was cut short on Sunday after he refused to have his statement taped and filmed, which is standard police practice. He fears police will alter the tapes and manipulate his remarks by police against him, Elden said.
“So far, the police have insisted on audio and video recording the interrogation,” Elden told VG. “My client declined to be taken on audio and video unless it was sent publicly in its entirety.”
Tanner reported from Helsinki.