• Gunman kills two, wounds 21
  • Revelers hid in the basement of an Oslo bar
  • Official Pride parade canceled after tragedy
  • Terrorist Threat Assessment Raised to Highest Level
  • Rainbow pride ‘in black’, says government minister

OSLO, June 25 (Reuters) – Terrified revelers at a gay bar in Oslo hid in a basement and desperately called for loved ones as a gunman went on a rampage, killing two people and wounding 21 on the day the city he had to celebrate his annual party. Pride parade.

Authorities said the suspect, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, was believed to be a radical Islamist with a history of mental illness known to intelligence services since 2015. read more

The attack took place in the early hours of Saturday and the victims were shot inside and outside the London Pub, a former center of Oslo’s LGBTQ scene, as well as in the surrounding streets and in another bar in the center of the Norwegian capital.

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The deceased were two men between the ages of 50 and 60, police said in a statement.

“Everything indicates that this was an attack by an Islamist extremist,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.

“We don’t know (yet) if the queer community was the intended target, but we do know that they are a victim,” he said.

Bili Blum-Jansen, who was at the London Pub, said he fled to the basement to escape the hail of bullets and hid there along with 80 to 100 other people.

“Many called their partners and relatives, it felt almost as if they were saying goodbye. Others helped to calm down those who were extremely terrified,” he told TV2.

“I had a little bit of a panic and thought if the shooter or shooters came, we would all be dead. There was no way out.”

Rainbow flags symbolizing the Pride community were prominently displayed in Oslo this week, but the parade planned for Saturday was canceled on the advice of police.

“Last night, the rainbow was dyed black,” said Anette Trettebergstuen, Norway’s minister for culture and equality and a prominent advocate for LGBTQ rights.

As the official parade was cancelled, several thousand people staged a spontaneous march in central Oslo, waving rainbow flags and chanting in English: “We are here, we are queer, we will not disappear.”

The suspect was taken into custody minutes after embarking on the shooting spree, according to police, who said they believe he acted alone. Two weapons, including a fully automatic pistol, were recovered from the crime scene, they added.

Other witnesses described the chaos that erupted inside and outside the London Pub, which has been open since 1979.

“A lot of people were crying and screaming, the injured were screaming, people were distraught and scared, very, very scared,” said Marcus Nybakken, 46, who had left the bar shortly before the shooting and returned later to help.

“My first thought was that Pride was the target, so that’s scary.”

Journalist Olav Roenneberg from public broadcaster NRK said he was in the area at the time and saw a man arrive with a bag, pull out a gun and start shooting: “Then I saw windows breaking and I understood I had to take cover.” .

It was unclear exactly where the two people were killed in the London Pub area.

THE NORWAY POLICE WILL CARRY WEAPONS

Security authorities raised the country’s terrorist threat assessment to its highest level after the attack.

Norwegian police, who are normally unarmed, will carry weapons until further notice as a precaution, national chief Benedicte Bjoernland said.

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

“We must unite and defend our values: freedom, diversity and mutual respect,” added the 85-year-old monarch.

The shooting took place just months after Norway marked 50 years since abolishing a law criminalizing 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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Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen; Edited by Pravin Char and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Reference-www.reuters.com

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