Norway bow-and-arrow attacker assessed

AAPPress Association
Man who killed five with bow-and-arrow in Norway will spend two weeks in isolation.
Camera IconMan who killed five with bow-and-arrow in Norway will spend two weeks in isolation. Credit: AP

The suspect in a bow-and-arrow attack that killed five people and wounded three others in a quiet Norwegian town is being assessed by psychiatrists.

Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen, was arrested on Wednesday night 30 minutes after a deadly rampage which apparently targeted random people in the town of Kongsberg.

Police have described the attack as an act of terror.

Four women and a man between the ages of 50 and 70 were killed, and three other people were wounded.

Braathen has acknowledged killing the victims, investigators have said.

Officers first encountered the perpetrator in the supermarket, where an off-duty police officer was injured, reportedly hit by an arrow in the shoulder.

Officers called to the scene were shot at twice with arrows, and as they sought shelter and called for reinforcement they lost visual contact with the suspect who managed to escape.

Investigators believe the five victims were killed after the suspect encountered the police.

"Arrows were fired at people in the public space," Senior police officer Per Thomas Omholt told a press conference on Friday.

The regional prosecutor leading the investigation has said that Braathen confessed to the killings after his arrest, and police said they think he acted alone.

Norway's domestic intelligence agency said on Thursday that the case appeared to be "an act of terrorism" but cautioned that the investigation was ongoing.

Mr Omholt said that as of Friday, investigators were continuing to explore possible motives or reasons for the attack but their "strongest hypothesis for motive is illness". Braathen's "health has deteriorated" the officer said, declining to give specifics.

Braathen has been transferred to a psychiatric facility where he be held in custody for four weeks, including two weeks in isolation. He will be banned from communicating with others.

Mr Omholt added that "at least" two experts will observe and evaluate Braathen to determine if he was legally sane at the time of the attack.

Braathen is being held on five counts of preliminary murder and three counts of preliminary attempted murder. Preliminary charges are a step short of formal charges, and a terror-related charge could be brought later if the evidence supports it, Mr Omholt said.

The suspect has been described by police as a Muslim convert, with officers adding that there had been earlier worries of the man having been "radicalised".

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