Police close in on Bislett gunman

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Last weekend’s near-assassination-style shooting of a young man on a street in a mostly residential area near Oslo’s Bislett Stadium has shaken even the most jaded murder investigators on the Oslo police force. They had six persons in custody as of Thursday morning whom they believe are tied to the shooting, and appeared optimistic they’d pin down the gunman soon.

“I don’t like to rank murders, but this one is quite special,” Inspector Hanne Kristin Rohde told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. “This involved use of raw violence, but the most special is that we haven’t managed to find any link between the victim and the circles where we think the murderer comes from. We haven’t found any motive. That’s very special, and very seldom.”

Shot in the head before witnesses
Speculation is swirling in the Norwegian media, with newspaper VG reporting Thursday morning that the victim may have unwittingly witnessed or interfered with a drug deal, and newspaper Aftenposten and other media reporting that police think they know who actually gunned down 35-year-old Einar Opsahl while he walked along the street called Pilestredet with some friends late Saturday night.

Police claimed publicly on Wednesday that they have no specific suspect in the case and still refer to it as a random shooting. The gunman, described as between 20 and 30 years old with Asian features and long black hair, got out of a car that had driven up alongside Opsahl’s group and shot Opsahl in the head at close range. He was later pronounced dead at Oslo University Hospital Ullevål.

Opsahl and his friends had left a nearby pub shortly before and witnesses said he had approached a parked car, apparently thinking it may be a pirate taxi that could carry the group further. The driver of that car, according to witnesses, reacted violently over the apparent misunderstanding.

It was just minutes later that the other car drove up and its occupant shot Opsahl.

Southeast Asians under suspicion
Police, based on witness information and several tips, quickly cracked down on what’s been described as a southeast Asian criminal organization in Oslo and in addition to arresting seven persons also seized “large quantities” of narcotics, according to Einar Aas of the Oslo Police District. The seven persons are from Thailand, Laos and Norway, and faced custody hearings on Thursday. Five were arrested in Oslo, another in Follo, south of the capital while a seventh person was eventually released.

Police were hoping to keep them in custody to prevent them from fleeing the country. Rohde said she and her colleagues were “more and more sure” that they were searching for Opsahl’s killer in the right circles “but we have a lot of questioning to do, and they’re difficult circles to work in.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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