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  26 Jun 2022, 11:06

'Islamist terror' suspect arrested in deadly Oslo attack

OSLO, June 26, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Norwegian police have arrested a man
suspected of "Islamist terrorism" after two people were killed and 21 wounded
in shootings near a gay bar in Oslo on Saturday, causing the city's Pride
march to be cancelled.

But despite the official march being called off, thousands spontaneously
gathered to march through the Norwegian capital in a display of unity also
seen at Pride marches across Europe.

The suspect, who was already known to security services, was arrested quickly
after the shooting started around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Friday) in central Oslo.

Norway's domestic intelligence service PST, which is responsible for counter-
terrorism, said it was treating the attack as "an act of Islamist terrorism".

The suspect "has a long history of violence and threats", PST's chief Roger
Berg said.

The suspect had been on the PST's radar "since 2015 in connection with
concerns about his radicalisation" and membership "in an Islamist extremist
network", Berg told a news conference.

Intelligence services spoke to the suspect last month, but did not consider
him to have "violent intentions", Berg said.

He added that the PST was also aware the suspect had "difficulties with his
mental health".
The suspect's lawyer, John Christian Elden, told Norwegian news agency NTB he
expected his client to be put under "judicial observation" to determine his
mental state, as is usually done in such cases.

The suspect has so far refused to be interviewed by investigators.

Police had earlier said the suspect was a 42-year-old Norwegian man of
Iranian descent.

Norwegian media named him as Zaniar Matapour, describing him as a father of
Iranian Kurdish origin who arrived in Norway as a child.

The two victims were men in their 50s and 60s, the police said, adding that
the injuries of the wounded were not life-threatening.

Police said they received the first reports at 1:14 am and the suspect was
arrested just five minutes later, thanks to the "heroic contribution" of
bystanders.

- 'We won't disappear' -

Organisers of the Pride march due to take place on Saturday afternoon called
it off, saying they were following "clear" recommendations from the police.

Oslo Mayor Raymond Johansen later said the Pride march -- the first for three
years because of the pandemic -- was only postponed and would be held at a
later date.

Those who did march on Saturday could be heard shouting: "We're here, we're
queer, we won't disappear."

"I think it's fantastic that this march is taking place, otherwise he would
have won," a visibly upset participant in her 50s told AFP.

Many people, some in tears, laid rainbow flags and flowers near the scene of
the attack, which was cordoned off by police.

"The man who did this tried to tear us apart," said Thomas Kristiansen, 25.
"But I think this brings us close together, to stand as one to face this."

Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit struggled to hold back her tears when she
went to the scene, which was also visited by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store
and other politicians.

"Today is a day that reminds us that Pride is a day we have to fight for --
the goal has not yet been reached," Trond Petter Aunas said near the scene.

The shootings happened near the London Pub gay club, the Herr Nilsen jazz
club and a takeaway food outlet in a central area packed with people on a
warm summer night.

- 'Overwhelmed by grief' -

Norway's intelligence services raised the country's threat level from
moderate to "extraordinary".

Police presence was stepped up throughout the capital and officers -- who do
not normally carry guns in Norway -- were instructed to arm themselves.

The attack led to enhanced security for Pride marches taking place across
France on Saturday, the French government said.

A moment's silence for the Oslo victims was held at the start of a pride
March in Warsaw, where members of Ukraine's LGBTQ community joined Polish
participants.

French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von
der Leyen were among the world leaders who condemned the attack.

US President Joe Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, described
the shooting as "horrific".

Norway's premier Store said: "Today was supposed to be a day to celebrate
love and brighten our streets in the colours of the rainbow."

"Instead, we are overwhelmed by grief," he told a press conference.

Norway's King Harald V said in a statement that he was "horrified".

"We have to gather together to defend our values -- liberty, diversity and
mutual respect," he said.

Generally peaceful Norway was the scene of bloody attacks on July 22, 2011,
when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people.

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