HELSINKI-Norway announced on Saturday that it would conduct an independent investigation into the activities of the police and security agencies following the bow-arrow attack, which killed five people and injured three others. Police have been criticized for reacting too slowly to curb the massacre, and admitted that five deaths occurred after police first met the attacker.
Norway’s domestic intelligence service, known by the acronym PST, said it had decided to seek a review after consulting with the country’s national and regional police commanders on Wednesday night’s attack in the southern city of Kongsberg. A 37-year-old local resident who, according to police, has admitted to the killing has been arrested and is being examined psychiatrically.
“Given the seriousness of the matter, it is very important that learning points and potential weaknesses and errors are quickly identified so that action can be taken immediately,” PST said in a statement.
Norwegian media have questioned how long it took officials to apprehend suspect Espen Andersen Braathen after regional police received reports of a man firing arrows at the supermarket. According to the police timeline, the first information about the attack was recorded at 6.13 pm and Andersen Braathen was caught at 6.47 pm
Authorities have not revealed what happened in 34 minutes.
Usually, police officers say the first police officers who arrived at the scene observed the suspect, but took shelter and demanded additional forces when arrows were fired at them. Authorities have acknowledged that the armed suspect escaped and likely killed five victims aged 52-78 outdoors and in some apartments.
Norway is one of the few countries in the world where law enforcement agencies do not carry weapons automatically, even though they have quick access to weapons and other weapons depending on the situation. In their statement, the authorities stated that the police were not armed in their first encounter and armed in subsequent encounters with Andersen Braathen.
Authorities said one of the wounded was a leisure police officer who struck a supermarket and that all the wounded have been released from the hospital.
The suspected attacker was known to police before the deadly attack. Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports that PST security authorities received information about Andersen Braathen in 2015 and agents interviewed him in 2017 to find out if he posed a threat. The following year, the agency contacted the Norwegian health authorities and found that he was suffering from a serious mental illness, NRK said.
The VG newspaper also reported that the agency thought Andersen Braathen might carry out a “small-scale attack by simple means in Norway”. PST did not comment on this report.
Police said on Saturday that their suspicions of the suspect’s apparent mental illness caused the attack were further strengthened, while Andersen Braathen’s statement on conversion to Islam had become a less important line of investigation.
“He himself has said he has converted to Islam. It is a hypothesis, but also a hypothesis that he has not done so,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said.