Macron calls for unity in face of islamist 'barbarity' following Oslo shooting

·3 min read
AP - Javad M. Parsa

French president Emmanuel Macron has called for unity in the face of islamist terrorism after a gunman attacked a gay bar and surrounding streets in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. At least two people were killed and 21 more injured on the day the city's LGBTQ community was due to celebrate its annual Pride parade.

UPDATE: 13h00 UT:

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for unity "in the face of hatred" and "the barbarity of an Islamist terrorist" after an overnight shooting in the Norwegian capital Oslo left two people dead and 21 injured.

The French president wrote on Twitter: "Oslo was hit last night by the barbarity of an Islamist terrorist. My heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims and their families, to the injured, to the Norwegian people."

"In the face of hatred, we will always be stronger together," he added.

Gay Pride targeted

The attack took place in the early hours of Saturday morning, with victims shot inside and outside the London Pub, a well-known gay bar and nightclub open since 1979, as well as at one other bar in the centre of the Norwegian capital.

"Many people were crying and screaming, the injured were screaming, people were distressed and scared - very, very scared," said Marcus Nybakken, who had left the London Pub shortly before the shooting and returned later to help.

"My first thought was that Pride was the target, so that's frightening."

One witness said a man arrived with a bag, took out a gun and started to shoot: "Then I saw windows breaking and understood that I had to take cover."

Act of terrorism

A suspect, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, was detained minutes after embarking on the shooting spree, according to police who said they believed he acted alone.

Two weapons, including a fully automatic gun, were reportedly retrieved from the crime scene.

"There is reason to think that this may be a hate crime," police said.

"We are investigating whether the Pride was a target in itself or whether there are other motives."

The attack is now being treated as an act of terrorism.

Norwegian police, who are not normally armed, will now carry guns until further notice as a precaution.

Norway's PST intelligence service added that it was investigating whether there could be further attacks.

LGBTQ community take to the streets

Meanwhile, the organisers of Oslo Pride cancelled Saturday's official parade, citing police advice. "We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will mark Pride celebrations at home," they said.

However, many members and supporters of the LGBTQ community nevertheless took to the streets of Oslo today in a show of defiance and solidarity with the victims of the attack.

King Harald of Norway said he and the royal family were devastated by the attack, which police said also left 10 people seriously wounded and 11 with minor injuries.

"We must stand together and defend our values: freedom, diversity and respect for each other," the 85-year-old monarch added.

The shooting took place just months after Norway marked 50 years since the abolition of a law that criminalised gay sex.

The Nordic nation of 5.4 million has lower crime rates than many Western countries, though it has experienced hate-motivated shootings, including when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011.

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