NORWEGIAN cops have charged a bow and arrow attacker who last night ruthlessly slaughtered four women and one man in a deadly terror attack.
The 37-year-old Muslim convert suspect, named as Espen Andersen Bråthen, unleashed a 35 minute killing spree in the town of Kongsberg as cops desperately hunted him down following reports he was randomly targeting people.
The horrific attack unfolded in the small town of Kongsberg, home to about 25,000 people 50 miles west of Oslo after about 6.30pm local time.
As well as the five killed, two were wounded.
Bråthen, a Danish national who lives in the Kongsberg area, has been held in custody, had has admitted he carried out the attacks. He was believed to have been acting alone in the terror attack.
I saw people flee for their lives. One was a woman holding a child in her hand
Today Norway’s domestic security agency, known by its acronym PST, said the incident appears to have been an act of terrorism.
It said in a statement: “The investigation will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by.”
Police said the Danish man suspected of the attack is a Muslim convert who was previously flagged as having been radicalized.
Attacks on random people in public places are a recurring modus operandi among extremist Islamists carrying out terror in the West, the domestic security agency said.
Police chief Ole B. Saeverud told a news conference today: “Witnesses saw lifeless people, heard intense howls and screams and saw people running for their lives in the streets.”
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The atrocity unfolded after 6.12pm when police were alerted to a man shooting arrows at people.
Five minutes later the police control room received reports that several people were hit by arrows.
At 6.18pm a first police patrol arrives outside Coop Extra supermarket inside which the shooter was targeting shoppers and staff.
Moments before two students calling at the Coop store for groceries told of their shock after finding the security guard at the door with an arrow in his back.
The guard is thought to be one of the two survivors of the horror and believed to have cheated death because the arrow head missed vital organs by millimetres.
The students named only as James, 21, and David, 20, said they never encountered the archer but saw his arrows scattered outside the store.
Witnesses saw lifeless people, heard intense howls and screams and saw people running for their lives in the streets
Police chief Ole B. Saeverud
Meanwhile, Thomas Nilsen, who lives next door to the Coop Extra store where the rampage began, said: “I heard a woman screaming, like screaming intensely for her life and a man shouting.
“A woman said she had seen another woman on the street, covered in blood with a huge wound in her thigh.
“Then a couple of minutes later someone screamed again, but this time it was different.
“At first, I thought it was the quarrel that escalated, but I have never heard such a scream before.
“It was a scream of death, a scream that cut into the soul. I will never forget that.”
The killer was then said to have shot at cops, and then escaped in the chaos.
At 6.28pm with officers scouring the streets, the public was warned on Twitter to stay indoors.
Meanwhile, the killer is believed to have picked out people on the streets.
Some reports say people were found dead in their homes, although it is unclear if they were targeted outside and staggered inside.
At 6.47pm he is apprehended by the entrance to a bridge after cops fired warning shots in his direction.
After giving cops the slip, he randomly targeted people in what is being investigated as a terror attack.
A large area of the small town, some 50 miles from Oslo, was evacuated and cordoned off after the suspect opened fire.
One witness told TV 2: “I saw people flee for their lives. One was a woman holding a child in her hand.”
Among those injured in the horror attack was an off-duty police officer, who was inside a Coop Extra supermarket during the rampage.
He is one of two people understood to be in intensive care.
Norway’s royal family expressed its sympathies.
“We’re horrified by the tragic events at Kongsberg,” King Harald said in a letter addressed to the town’s mayor.
“The rest of the nation stands with you,” the 84-year-old monarch wrote.
Witnesses spoke of finding a seriously injured woman with an arrow in her body calling out for help in a pool of blood near a traffic junction.
One told TV 2: “There were crazy screams of women. I’ve never heard anything like it. It was a death cry.”
Harrowing images taken in the street show arrows stuck inside a wall after the suspect allegedly missed his target.
Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg reassured the nation “the police are now in control” in a press conference on the “gruesome” attack.
Mayor Kari Anne Sand said a crisis centre had been established in the town adding: “It is a tragedy for all those affected. I am speechless.”
The attack happened on the eve of a new government taking power.
Ms Solberg said the mass murder would not affect the handover and the new prime minister would be sworn in as planned.
The investigation continues.
Last night’s shooting was the deadliest attack in Norway in a decade after far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011.
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