Terrified revelers 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 more than 20 on the day the city was due to celebrate its annual Pride parade.
The attack took place in the early hours of Saturday, with victims shot inside and outside the London Pub, a longstanding hub of Oslo’s LGBTQ scene, as well as in the surrounding streets and at one other bar in the center of the Norwegian capital.
A suspect, a 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 retrieved from the crime scene, they added.
“There is clear reason to think that this may be a hate crime,” police said.
“Many people were crying and screaming, the injured were screaming, people were distressed 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 frightening.”
NORWAY POLICE TO CARRY GUNS
Norwegian police, who are not normally armed, will now carry guns until further notice as a precaution, national chief Benedicte Bjoernland said. Norway’s PST intelligence service added that it was investigating whether there could be further attacks. “For now we have no indication of that,” PST said.
OSLO PRIDE CANCELED
The organizers of Oslo Pride canceled Saturday’s parade, citing police advice. “We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will mark Pride celebrations at home,” they said.
Still, several thousand people began what appeared to be a spontaneous march in central Oslo, waving rainbow flags and chanting in English: “We’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear.”
KING HARALD ADDRESS THE GAY COMMUNITY
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.
A report by Reuters.