A gunman opened fire in central Oslo early on Saturday, killing two people and injuring more than 20 in what the Norwegian security service called an “Islamist terror act” during the capital’s annual LGBT Pride festival.
The attack started outside the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBT community, and a police spokesman said officers had reasons to believe it was a hate crime.
A suspect – identified officially as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran – was held in custody accused of murder, attempted murder and terrorism.
The victims, a man in his 50s and and another in his 60s, were yet to be named by police.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a speech during the memorial service for them that “the shooting in the night hours put an end to the Pride parade but it did not stop the fight and the efforts to fight discrimination, prejudice and hatred”.
He also addressed Norway‘s Muslim community.
“I know how many of you felt when it turned out that the perpetrator belonged to the Islamic community. Many of you experienced fear and unrest.
“You should know this: We stand together, we are one community and we are responsible for the community together,” Mr Gahr Stoere said during the church service, which was also attended by Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
Local media repored that Masud Gharahkhani, president of the Storting, Norway’s upper house of parliament, told mourners he spoke to a doorman at the London Pub called Saman.
“That night he had to save and help people. Saman is a friend who put his own fears aside to protect people from a cowardly attack.
“Saman cried and is in bottomless grief but he said he also felt ashamed. Because he happened to be born in the same country as the terrorist,” Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten quoted him as saying.
Police have yet to name the suspect in custody. The Norwegian domestic security agency PST said on Saturday it first became aware of the suspect in 2015 and later grew concerned he had become radicalised and was part of an unspecified Islamist network.
Norwegian media have identified the suspect as Oslo resident Zaniar Matapour, who arrived in Norway with his family from a Kurdish part of Iran in the 1990s.
It was also reported that Matapour was allegedly in close contact with an Islamic extremist living in Norway who had been known to the Norwegian police for a long time.
The extremist, identified as Arfan Bhatti, is known among other things for his strong anti-gay views, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said.