Mosque shooting widely condemned

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A young Norwegian man who fired shots inside a mosque in suburban Oslo Saturday evening was refusing to talk with police on Sunday. He’s in custody, charged with murder and attempted murder, while Prime Minister Erna Solberg joined other top politicians in condemning what’s being investigated as a terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist.

Rune Skjold of the Oslo Police District, who led a midnight press conference about the mosque shooting, could confirm that the incident will be investigated as a terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

“All of us in the government think it’s important to show that we’re taking this very seriously,” Solberg told reporters Sunday afternoon, when she visited another Islamic center in Oslo accompanied by her Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr of the Progress Party, Culture and Equality Minister Trine Skei Grande of the Liberal Party, Education and Integration Minister Jan Tore Sanner of Solberg’s own Conservative Party and Children’s and Family Minister Kjell Ingolf Ropstad of the Christian Democrats Party.

“Muslims must be assured that they feel safe in our country,” Solberg said, “and have support from the Norwegian government and, as I see it, from the Norwegian people.”

Solberg said she was especially grateful for many signs of such support throughout the day on Sunday, as Norwegians spontaneously visited mosques in a show of solidarity, as Muslims celebrated their Id holiday. “What happened yesterday shall not happen in Norway,” Solberg stressed.

‘White man with a helmet and uniform’
It was, however, another apparent attack by a white supremacist. Details were still emerging Sunday from the shooting incident at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre at Skui in Bærum late Saturday afternoon, as media reported how a Norwegian man in his 20s reportedly entered the center, known as  Bærum’s mosque, and started firing shots.

“One of our members has been shot by a white man with a helmet and uniform,” Irfan Mushtaq, a member of Al-Noor’s board and leader of the center, told local newspaper Budstsikka.

Police received their first call about the shooting shortly after 4pm, and when they arrived, the assailant had been overpowered by people inside the mosque including a man in his 70s. One person was wounded, but not seriously. Police found weapons inside the mosque and immediately took the young Norwegian into custody. They described him at a midnight press conference as “a Norwegian citizen of Norwegian background who lives in the area.”

Police acknowledged having “had contact” with the man earlier, but said he didn’t have a criminal record. “We haven’t had any reports of concern about him and had no reason for it,” said Rune Skjold of the Oslo Police. He wouldn’t reveal what had prompted the earlier contact with the young man.

Charged with step-sister’s murder
On Sunday the man in his 20s was charged not only with attempted murder at the mosque but with murder as well, after police found the body of a young woman at another address at Eiksmarka in Bærum several hours after the shooting. The victim was later identified as the 17-year-old step-sister of the shooting suspect.

NRK reported late Sunday afternoon that the suspect had so far refused to speak with police or answer any questions. Skjold of the Oslo Police could then also report that the young man has “exhibited right-wing extremist views,” expressed support for the Norwegian traitor Vidkun Quisling who sided with Nazi German occupiers during World War II, and has been critical of immigration to Norway.

A defense attorney was quickly appointed for the suspect, but she hadn’t been able to meet with him by Sunday afternoon. NRK reported that it could tie the suspect, whose identity has not been made public in accordance with Norwegian press guidelines, to an online forum in which he published a message that he’d been “chosen by Saint Tarrant,” a reference to the 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.

The Norwegian suspect also reportedly made references to other assailants, one who attacked a synagogue in San Diego, California in April and another who unleashed last week’s massacre in El Paso that targeted Hispanics.

Oslo police confirmed that the Norwegian suspect’s online activity is part of their investigation. Neighbours, meanwhile, have described him as a “proper young man” who sometimes helped them with various practical chores. A death in his close family, however, reportedly affected him badly, and he’ll be examined by court-appointed psychiatrists.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund