OSLO, Norway – Two people were killed early Saturday morning and at least 19 injured in central Oslo when a gunman opened fire outside two nightclubs and a restaurant, police and Norway’s state broadcaster said.
A male suspect was arrested five minutes after the shooting was reported, Oslo police reported on Twitter. Tore Barstad, chief of police operations who spoke to reporters about the incident, did not identify the suspect or speculate on a motive.
One of the two nightclubs, the London Pub, is a hub of Oslo’s gay nightlife. The city’s annual Pride parade, a culmination of a ten-day festival that began last week, was set to take place on Saturday.
Olav Rønneberg, crime reporter for the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, happened to be in the area when the violence started. “I saw a man arrive at the scene with a bag, he grabbed a gun and started shooting,” he told the outlet.
The London Pub, a few blocks from the Norwegian Parliament Building, opened in the 1970s. A photo of the bar in a listing on Oslo’s official tourism website shows a rainbow flag hoisted over the entrance.
The timing and location of the attack raised concerns that it may have been intended to target the LGBTQ community in Norway, where gay couples have had the right to marry and have children since 2009.
Shootings are extremely rare in Norway, a country of five million people whose capital is located on a picturesque fjord.
Gun owners must be licensed and take safety classes, and a ban on semi-automatic weapons issued by Norway’s parliament — a response to a 2011 attack by a far-right gunman that killed 77 people — came into effect last year.
The 2011 attack began when the gunman, Anders Behring Breivik, detonated a fertilizer bomb in central Oslo, killing eight people. He then killed 69 people, mostly teenagers, in a shooting at a political summer camp.
Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the attacks, the maximum under Norwegian law. He was released on parole in February by a Norwegian court that said he appeared “devoid of empathy and compassion for the victims of the terror”.
Henrik Pryser Libell reported from Oslo and Mike Ives from Seoul.