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Norwegian police name man responsible for bow and arrow attacks


Norwegian police have now named the man accused of killing five people with a bow and arrow in the small town of Kongsberg, Norway, on Wednesday night. Investigators say the suspect was potentially radicalized, but he also may have had a history of poor mental health. Here's reporter Esme Nicholson.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Non-English language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

ESME NICHOLSON, BYLINE: Local residents in Kongsberg are still getting over what they witnessed from their windows as Wednesday's incident unfolded. Flags are now at half staff in the small city that lies about 50 miles southwest of Oslo. Kongsberg Police Chief Oyvind Aas (ph) says the city council and churches are providing comfort and counselling to those who need it.


OYVIND AAS: (Through interpreter) This will have a serious impact on Kongsberg and all of those who live here. Not only those who were present during the attack are suffering, but the whole community is affected.

NICHOLSON: His sentiments were echoed by Norway's outgoing prime minister, Erna Solberg, who is leaving office after being defeated in last month's election.


PRIME MINISTER ERNA SOLBERG: (Through interpreter) The attack has shocked us all. I understand that many people are afraid. Our thoughts go first and foremost to those who have been affected and to their families.

NICHOLSON: Police received calls about a man firing arrows at passersby in the center of Kongsberg and, following a manhunt, arrested the suspect at the scene. He's now been named as Espen Andersen Braathen (ph), a 37-year-old Danish man living in the city. Prosecutors say Braathen is a Muslim convert known to the authorities as somebody who may potentially have been radicalized. Norway's domestic intelligence agency has not ruled out terrorism, but investigators are being cautious about the suspect's motives before assessing all the evidence and conducting psychiatric tests.

Norway's public broadcaster, NRK, spoke to an acquaintance of the suspect, who said Braathen's conversion to Islam was irrelevant and that he had long suffered from poor mental health. Braathen was under a six-month restraining order after threatening to kill a member of his family. Violent crime is very unusual in Norway, and Wednesday's attack is the country's most deadly since the far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people a decade ago. For NPR News, I'm Emse Nicholson in Berlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF AVISHAI COHEN'S "REMEMBERING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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