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Police nab suspect in Storting threats

Police announced shortly after noon that they’d arrested the suspect they were looking for, after he’d made threats against the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) and set off a full terror alarm in Oslo. A major manhunt had continued after two persons apprehended earlier were released.

Police said they “had control” over their identified suspect and that more details would be released later in the day. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the police announcement came just after police were seen entering another residence at Lambertseter on Oslo’s east side. That’s where the man who made threats on a bus late Tuesday night had last been seen.

“We have and are putting lots of resources into this,” Johan Fredriksen of the Oslo Police District told reporters at a mid-morning press conference earlier in the day. “We will continue to do so.”

He confirmed that another person had been “checked out of the case” following the second apprehension of the day. “The two actions at Lambertseter were based on concrete information and were necessary to clear identified persons out of the case,” Fredriksen said. “So far have those persons directly confronted been dropped as suspects.”

‘Not taking any chances’
He said he understood that the massive police operation had attracted widespread media attention, not least since it led to much of the area around the Parliament being cordoned off during the night and heavily armed guards placed around the historic building. “What we’ve done so far is perhaps excessive, but we’re not taking any chances,” Fredriksen said. Even though the threats made were “unspecified,” according to Fredriksen, “we want to get to the bottom of this.”

Police re-opened some of the streets around the Parliament, moving their security line closer to the building, but the armed police would remain in place, Fredriksen said, “until the situation is clarified.” That probably meant until the suspect, whom police said they had identified, was in custody.

The threat level was therefore reduced and politicians were trying to go about their business Wednesday morning. The weekly spørretimen (“question hour”), when politicians in opposition can challenge government officials on various issues, was due to proceed as scheduled.

Stirred memories of July 22
With memories still fresh of the terrorist bombings just a few blocks away on July 22, 2011, some politicians expressed frustration that they hadn’t received enough official information on the status of the bomb threat. Others said they felt safe and thought the police were doing a good job.

“We must accept that Norway is a target for threats,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Justice Minister Grete Faremo said she’d been kept informed and understood the situation had to be taken seriously.

Fredriksen said that despite the massive police response to the threats during the night, “if we thought there really was danger to the building, we would have closed it.” A top official at the Parliament later apologized for not providing more information to its members.

Drama began on a bus
The drama began around midnight when a male passenger on a bus from Hønefoss to Sandvika was overheard making threats including one about bombing the Parliament. Fredriksen said he “may have been under the influence, or sick,” but again, police didn’t want to take any chances.

He said some suspects had been cleared and others were still “very much” in the police spotlight as they worked with state police intelligence unit PST. They remained focused on just the man on the bus, however, following “technical traces” of him and photos from various surveillance cameras.

Fredriksen wouldn’t reveal many details about the suspect other than to confirm he is a Norwegian citizen in his 30s. No motive was revealed either.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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