OSLO, Norway – The Norwegian prime minister and members of the royal family joined mourners on Sunday at a memorial service at Oslo Cathedral for the victims of a shooting as the capital held its annual LGBTQ Pride festival.
A gunman opened fire in nightlife areas in central Oslo early Saturday, killing two people — one man in his fifties and the other in his sixties — and wounding more than 20 others in what the Norwegian security service calls an “Islamist act of terrorism”.
A suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was detained on charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism. His lawyer says he refuses to talk to the police.
The capital’s Pride parade was scheduled to take place on Saturday, but was cancelled.
The London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community, was located at the crime scene. Police investigators said it was unclear whether hatred of people based on sexual orientation and gender identity motivated the attack. has not stopped the struggle and efforts to fight discrimination, prejudice and hatred.”
He also addressed the Norwegian Muslim community.
“I know how many of you felt when it turned out that the perpetrator belonged to the Islamic community. Many of you have experienced fear and anxiety. You need to know this: we stand together, we are one community and we are responsible for the community together,” said Gahr Støre during the church service, which Crown Princess Mette-Marit also attended.
Norwegian media have identified the suspect as Oslo resident Zaniar Matapour, who arrived in Norway with his family from a Kurdish part of Iran in the 1990s.
Matapour had a criminal record with narcotics and a gun offense for carrying a knife. Investigators said they seized two weapons: a handgun and an automatic weapon after Saturday’s shooting.
Norway’s Internal Security Service, known by its Norwegian initialism PST, said on Saturday it first discovered the suspect in 2015 and later became concerned that he had been radicalized and part of an undisclosed Islamist network.
Norwegian media reported on Sunday that Matapour had been in close contact with an Islamist extremist living in Norway who had long been known to the Norwegian police.
The extremist, identified as Arfan Bhatti, was known in part for his outspoken anti-gay views, according to Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
Matapour was detained on charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted in multiple locations.
His lawyer, John Christian Elden, who previously represented Bhatti, said his client has not provided an explanation for his actions.
“It is very unclear whether there is a motive,” Elden told the Norwegian newspaper VG. “It also means that you have to be very careful to speculate on the reasons why this happened.”
Matapour’s interrogation by police was cut short on Sunday after he refused to record and videotape his statement, which is standard police practice. He fears that the police would edit the recordings and manipulate his words by the police against him, Elden said.
“Until now, the police have insisted on audio and video recording of the interrogation,” Elden told VG. “My client has refused to be recorded on audio and video unless it was sent publicly in its entirety.”