Norway mosque attack suspect charged with murder and terror offences

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By Euronews & AP
Police and ambulances near Al-Noor Islamic centre.
Police and ambulances near Al-Noor Islamic centre.   -  Copyright  TV2 via AP Video - 11 August 2019

A man accused of storming a mosque near the Norwegian capital of Oslo, after murdering his step-sister, has been charged with murder and terror offences.

Philip Manshaus, 22, is accused of killing Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen - his step-sister - with a hunting rifle before storming the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in August.

Prosecutors say Manshaus tried to attack the mosque "with the intention to kill as many Muslims as possible''.

He fired six shots but didn't hit anyone before being overpowered by three worshippers who were preparing for Eid al-Adha celebrations.

One person was slightly injured when they jumped on Manshaus inside the mosque and held him until he was detained by police.

Witnesses say that more than a dozen people were praying inside the mosque just 10 minutes before the suspect arrived.

Manshaus, 22, is suspected of killing his 17-year-old stepsister by shooting her four times with a hunting rifle at their home in the Oslo suburb of Baerum.

After attacking and killing his step-sister, Manshaus drove to the mosque, while wearing a helmet with a video camera attached and a bulletproof vest, according to the charge sheet obtained by The Associated Press.

Armed with a hunting rifle and a shotgun, Manshaus fired four shots with the rifle at a glass door before he was overpowered by one of the men in the mosque at the time, Muhammad Rafiq. During the scuffle, Manshaus fired two more shots but no one was hit.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg described his actions as a “direct attack on Norwegian Muslims”.

A trial is scheduled to start May 7 in Oslo.

Authorities had investigated whether Manshaus was inspired by shootings in March 2019 in New Zealand, where a gunman targeted two mosques, killing 51 people, and in August 2019 in El Paso, Texas, where an assailant targeted Hispanics and left at least 22 dead.

Norway's domestic security agency PST said it had a "vague" tip about Manshaus a year before the shooting, but it was not enough to act on because they had no information about any "concrete plan" of attack.