Police in London had a 19-year-old Norwegian citizen in custody on Thursday, charged with stabbing one woman to death and injuring five others during the night. The 19-year-old defendant is of Somalian descent and emigrated from Norway as a child.
The defendant went on the attack at Russell Square in Central London late Wednesday night, killing a woman in her 60s and stabbing five others before police stopped him with an electronic shock weapon. The area is popular with tourists, close to both the British Museum and the University of London.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the Norwegian citizen was charged with murder Thursday morning and was in police custody after being treated for injuries of his own at a London hospital.
Metropolitan Police in London described his attack as spontaneous, with his victims chosen at random. The woman killed was reported to be an American citizen, while those injured were from Australia, the US, Israel and Great Britain.
Norway’s state police unit Kripos confirmed Thursday that the man held is a Norwegian citizen registered as having emigrated from Norway in 2002, when he was five years old.
Kripos reported that Norwegian police were taking part in the British police investigation of the stabbings. “This is a British investigation and it’s the British police who decide what they want done in the case and what type of information they might need from us,” Kripos wrote on its Norwegian website Thursday.
Officials at Norway’s foreign ministry reported they also were aware of the case and were in contact with British authorities.
The Metropolitan Police in London reported they had questioned the 19-year-old, his family and witnesses, and had found no evidence that the defendant had been readicalized or that he was motivated by terrorism. Mark Rowley, London’s assistant police chief, said that even though the investigation was not finished, there were strong indications that the attacks were caused by the 19-year-old’s mental health problems.