Mandal murder raised terror concern

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A murder in the southern coastal town of Mandal on Tuesday that police initially said involved a shooting has now been confirmed as a stabbing by a troubled 19-year-old. He allegedly was preoccupied with war, military items and terror groups, and his victim was another teenager referred to as his best friend.

Norwegian media was abuzz Wednesday afternoon with various reports claiming that the 19-year-old had been violent in the past and had once talked to local media about his ADHD (attention deficiency) diagnosis.

IS ties denied
Local newspaper Lindesnes Avis reported that police had been been in contact with the young man after receiving reports he was interested in joining either the Kurdish military group Pesmergaen, which is fighting against the terror group IS in Iraq and Syria, or IS itself. His defense attorney, Sveinung Søndervik Johnsen, quickly denied, though, that his client was interested in IS. Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) confirmed to website VG.no that they were “aware” of the 19-year-old but wouldn’t say why.

He was wearing a military uniform when he was arrested after an incident that began with shots being fired and ended with the discovery of another 19-year-old’s body inside an apartment in Mandal. He was initially reported to have been shot but on Wednesday police said he died of stab wounds. There were shots fired, though, and a weapon was seized.

The victim has been identified as Joakim Ophaug Røksland, whom classmates at the local Mandal high school described as “the best friend” of the other young man arrested. Røksland was described by the school’s principal as “dutiful, kind and patient,” and crisis counselors were called in to provide support for students at the school, where the flag was flying at half-mast on Wednesday.

Turbulent past
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the 19-year-old under arrest had lived in Mandal until he was in the seventh grade, when he moved to live with his father in Bergen. NRK reported that shortly before that, around six years ago, he was involved in a serious episode at school when he threatened a fellow student in such a manner that police were called. A patrol car arrived at the school and picked up the then-13-year-old boy.

After several years in Bergen, NRK reported that he moved back to Mandal late last summer, where he was completing his last year of high school. Both he and his victim were supposed to start the annual russ party season this weekend.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund