Mental illness remains the main driver behind the deadly bow-and-arrow attack in Norway, police have said. While the suspect is being held in a psychiatric institution, other motives, including terrorism, have not been ruled out.
“We work with several hypotheses. They are weakened and strengthened during the investigation,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said during a press conference on Friday. “We will find out what has happened, and why it has happened.”
The hypothesis that has been strengthened the most in the first days of the investigation is that the background is illness.
The investigators are also probing other motives, including “anger, revenge, impulse, jihad,” the official added. The suspect, a 37-year-old local man identified as Espen Andersen Braathen, has been charged with five counts of murder so far, with additional charges expected to be brought against him shortly.
He is being kept in a “psychiatric institution” while the investigation is ongoing, Omholt said. Braathen has acknowledged killing the victims, yet refused to plead guilty.
Earlier, the police had said Braathen was a convert to Islam who had shown signs of radicalization, adding that there was a potential terrorist motive behind his actions. No terrorism charges, however, have been brought against him yet and further investigation is needed to establish whether the rampage was a terrorist attack, Omholt said.
The suspect went on a bow-and-arrow rampage in the southern town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, forcing his way into houses and one supermarket, and assaulting people in the streets. Four women and one man aged between 50 and 70 were killed during the rampage, while three others, including an off-duty police officer, were injured.
The police refused to provide further details on the rampage or present the public with the exact course of events, seeking to avoid influencing witnesses who are still being questioned.
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