Terrified revellers at a gay bar in Oslo hid in a basement and desperately called loved ones as a gunman went on the rampage, killing two people and injuring 21 on the day the city was due to celebrate its annual Pride parade.
At least 10 others were injured at the London Pub in Oslo at 1am local time after a gunman opened fire at the popular gay bar and nightclub. Some played dead to escape the attentions of the gunman.
Two men in their 50s and 60s were killed, police said.
Authorities said the suspect, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, was believed to be a radicalised Islamist with a history of mental illness who had been known to intelligence services since 2015
Police lawyer Christian Hatlo said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at three different locations.
“Our overall assessment is that there are grounds to believe that he wanted to cause grave fear in the population,” Mr Hatlo said.
Mr Hatlo said the suspect’s mental health was also being investigated.
Police spokesman, Tore Barstad earlier said it wasn’t clear whether the shooting had any connection to the Pride parade that was due to be held on Saturday.
“Police are in contact with the organizers of the Pride event this Saturday. There will be a continuous assessment of what measures police should take to protect that event and whether this incident has a connection to Pride at all,” he told reporters.
Police inspector Tore Soldal said 10 people were being treated for serious injuries, but none of them was believed to be life-threatening.
“Everything indicates that this has been an attack by an Islamist extremist,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.
“We don’t (yet) know if the queer community was the intended target, but we know it is a victim.”
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.”
Norwegian media said the shots were fired outside the London Pub, which describes itself as the most popular gay bar in Oslo since it opened in 1979.
Christian Bredeli, who was at the bar, told Norwegian newspaper VG that he hid on the fourth floor with a group of about 10 people until he was told it was safe to come out.
“Many were fearing for their lives,” he said. “On our way out we saw several injured people, so we understood that something serious had happened.”
Norwegian broadcaster TV2 showed footage of people running down Oslo streets in panic as shots rang out in the background.
Oslo Pride said it was in contact with police following the incident but had decided to cancel the event.
"Oslo Pride therefore urges everyone who planned to participate or watch the parade to not show up.
“All events in connection with Oslo Prides are cancelled," organisers said on the official Facebook page of the event.