An Iranian immigrant to Norway attacked the popular London Pub gay nightclub in Oslo with gunfire around 1 a.m. Saturday, killing two and wounding twenty-one people, according to police. The alleged gunman Zaniar Matapour, 42, who was well known to state security, was arrested within minutes and has since been charged with terrorism. Eight of the wounded are hospitalized. Police say Matapour fired shots at three locations. The gay pride parade scheduled for Saturday in Oslo has been canceled.
Oslo’s annual Pride parade was canceled on Saturday following a deadly shooting at a gay bar that Norwegian police are investigating as a possible terrorist attack.
Two people were killed and eight others taken to hospital after the shooting near the London Pub, which describes itself on its website as “the largest gay and lesbian venue in Oslo.”
Police received multiple calls about the shooting at 1:14 a.m. local time, and arrived at the scene minutes later. They apprehended the male suspect three minutes after arrival, police said.
The suspect, charged with terrorism, is a Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, and was “known to the police,” but has only received “minor convictions” up until now, prosecutor Christian Hatlo told reporters in Oslo Saturday.
…There were wounded people on the ground inside and outside the bar when the police arrived. “The scene was chaotic, it was a warm evening and a lot of people were outside, so there were people running everywhere,” police told CNN.
Among the eight in hospital, three people are in critical condition. Another 14 victims sustained minor injuries.
The Norwegian Police Security Service said the alleged gunman is known to them. (Via translation.)
“PST is informed about the shooting in Oslo on Saturday night. The apprehended person is known to PST from the past. We are now contributing all the relevant information we have to Oslo PD, and are working to clarify whether more acts of violence may be planned. We do not currently have any indications of that.”
PST er orientert om skytingen i Oslo natt til lørdag.
Den pågrepne er kjent for PST fra tidligere. Vi bidrar nå med all relevant informasjon vi har til Oslo PD, og jobber med å avklare om det kan være planlagt flere voldshandlinger. Foreløpig har vi ikke indikasjoner på det.
— PST (@PSTnorge) June 25, 2022
Last week state security service downplayed the threat from Islamist terrorism, “Update on the terrorist threat against Norway. The threat from extreme Islamists is considered somewhat reduced”
Oppdatering av terrortrusselen mot Norge. Trusselen fra ekstreme islamister vurderes som noe redusert https://t.co/pe45thfojv
— PST (@PSTnorge) June 16, 2022
The AP reports Norway has since raised the terror alert (excerpt):
A gunman opened fire in Oslo’s nightlife district early Saturday, killing two people and leaving more than 20 wounded in what the Norwegian security service called an “Islamist terror act” during the capital’s annual LGBTQ Pride festival.
Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo — inside and outside the London Pub, a long-standing hub of Oslo’s LGBTQ scene, in the surrounding streets, and at one other bar in the centre of the city..
Police said two men, one in his 50s and and the other his 60s, died in the shootings. Ten people were treated for serious injuries, but none of them was believed to be in life-threatening condition. Eleven others had minor injuries.
The Norwegian Police Security Service raised its terror alert level from “moderate” to “extraordinary” — the highest level — after the attack, which sent panicked revellers fleeing into the streets or trying to hide from the gunman.
The service’s acting chief, Roger Berg, called the attack an “extreme Islamist terror act” and said the suspect had a “long history of violence and threats,” as well as mental health issues.
…Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.
“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK. “First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered, and I understood I had to run for cover.”
The gunman is reportedly an Iranian Kurd, “Kurdish Norwegian Zaniar Matapour (42) are now charged with terrorism. The police security service (PST) considers the shooting in Oslo as an Islamistic terrorist attack.”
Norwegian news site VG (excerpt via translation):
Two people were killed and 21 injured in the shooting outside the bars Per at Hjørnet and London in Oslo last night.
The 42-year-old who has been arrested has previously been convicted of aggravated assault and possession of drugs.
The accused have also been investigated for other more serious matters, including attempted murder, but these matters have been dropped.
– The perpetrator has a long history of violence and threats, says acting PST chief Roger Berg at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.
PST has had knowledge of the perpetrator back to 2015, with concern that he was then radicalized and part of an extremely Islamist contact network in Norway, says the PST chief.
They do not want to specify which networks this is, but the PST chief tells VG that the man has “sympathized with ISIL”. It is thus the terrorist group that is also called IS, which has operated in Syria and Iraq, among other places.
The man comes from the Kurdish part of Iran, and came with his family to Norway as a refugee when he was a child. He is a Norwegian citizen and lives in Oslo.
– He has had extreme attitudes, says the PST manager to VG.
Was in talks in May
PST states that in May this year they conducted conversations with the accused “in connection with the fact that he had shown interest in markings and statements that are perceived as a violation of Islam”.
– It was not considered in these conversations that the perpetrator had intention of violence, but PST is aware that the perpetrator has had challenges related to mental health, says the PST chief.
– We have not considered him as one of those we are most worried about, in other words that we have not been close with measures around him, says the PST manager to VG.
He says they make assessments before big events like Pride and May 17.
– We had no indications prior to yesterday that indicated that we should have a special concern about him, says the PST chief.
…In July 2019 , Matapour was arrested for attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal carrying of a knife in a public place.
Matapour was released after a few days against the will of the prosecution. The prosecution believed that the man had a history that gave good reason for suspicion, and that previous cases showed that he had access to weapons. According to a ruling from the Borgarting Court of Appeal, he was released because the court did not find reasonable grounds for suspicion.
…Police believe he used an older weapon when he shot and killed two people in central Oslo.
– It is not a modern weapon. I do not know the details, and with the risk of making a mistake, the feedback was that it was fully automatic, the police say, and at the same time emphasize that they do not know if the weapon was used as fully automatic, or if single shots were fired.
End excerpt, please read the entire VG news article at this link.
Six years ago on June 12, 2016, Islamist terrorist Omar Mateen, who pledged loyalty to ISIS, attacked the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, shooting and killing 49 and wounding 58 people.
UPDATE: the White House issued a statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan:
Statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Oslo Shooting
JUNE 25, 2022
The horrific shooting in Norway this morning has been felt around the world. The United States strongly condemns this act of terror. We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims, the diverse and strong LGBTQI+ community of Oslo, our close NATO ally Norway, and all who have been devastated by this senseless act. The United States has been in touch with the Norwegian government and offered to provide assistance. We remain committed to continuing to partner with Norway to advance a more equitable and just world for all, free from violence and discrimination.