UPDATED: Two fatal stabbings on the streets of Oslo Wednesday morning set off a massive response by police and resulted in the arrest of an alleged assailant within a few hours. Security was already high in connection with this week’s Nobel Peace Prize events in Oslo, and police were clearly keen to reassure the public that the Norwegian capital is safe.
The double murder occurred just as dignitaries and an international press corps were arriving for this week’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Thursday and for several other related events. Johan Fredriksen, staff chief for the Oslo Police District, claimed police are on the job.
“We have a high degree of security in Oslo this week, both discreet and visible,” Fredriksen said midday press conference. He also stressed that police “had come a long way” with their investigation of Wednesday’s double murder.
Grete Lien Metlid of the Oslo Police District could report that a man in his 50s had just been arrested, at 12:05pm, in connection with the stabbings of a man and a woman earlier Wednesday morning. A woman was the first to be reported stabbed outside the garages of a residential complex at Manglerud on Oslo’s east side. Around a half-hour later, shortly after 8am, police received a report of another stabbing, on the street called Breigata in Oslo’s Grønland district.
Metlid later referred to the second murder as occurring in Grønland’s neighboring district of Tøyen. The woman, identified as a Norwegian, was declared dead at the scene, while the man, a Norwegian of foreign extraction, was dead on arrival at a local hospital.
Metlid said it was “too early” to relate any information about a motive for the stabbings, but they believe the man arrested just after noon killed both victims. She described his as “known to police,” suggesting he has a prior police record.
The man arrested is a 55-year-old foreign citizen who has lived in Norway for various periods since the 1980s. Newspaper VG reported that he has been convicted several times, on narcotics charges among others, and had been ordered deported. “We need to chart why he’s still in the country,” Metlid told state broadcaster NRK. He was undergoing questioning Wednesday evening.
She said both stabbings occurred outdoors and she characterized them as “ordinary murders,” quelling any speculation that the street stabbings may have been terrorist attacks. She also said that police believe the man in custody had “a relation” to both victims.
“This is an extremely serious case,” Metlid said, confirming that it set off “quite hectic activity” Wednesday morning. She said police had received assistance in the investigation from “many witnesses” but anyone else with information was urged to call police at 22 66 96 00.