UPDATED: A woman described as a client of the Norwegian state welfare agency NAV set her clothes on fire while inside a NAV office in Oslo’s St Hanshaugen on Friday. Shocked staff and other clients quickly doused the flames and the woman was rushed to hospital, while violence also struck two other NAV offices in other areas of the city.
The self-immolation attempt occurred around 10am, with the women suffering burns to her face and body. She was conscious when police and ambulance personnel arrived at the scene.
“We have quite a few witnesses and folks who are understandably quite upset by what happened,” Tor Gulbrandsen, operations leader for the Oslo Police District, told state broadcaster NRK. He said crisis team personnel were attending to their needs “as best they could.”
Gulbrandsen said police didn’t know what triggered the attempt at self-immolation. “That’s what we’re working to clarify,” he told NRK.
The NAV office was immediately closed, with clients needing urgent help referred to other NAV offices nearby. “Even though we have routines, this isn’t something that happens every day, so we need to support our staff,” said Hege Farnes Hildrum, county director for NAV Oslo.
NAV staff have recently been targets of frustrated and potentially violent welfare recipients, with one NAV worker stabbed to death at work last year. Later in the day on Friday, another NAV office in Oslo’s Grünerløkka district closed because of death threats sent via e-mail, while the NAV office in Frogner briefly closed after an unruly client hit his case worker. Police were called and arrested him.