Norway’s domestic security agency, PST, said on Thursday the bow and arrow attack which left five people dead "currently appears to be an act of terrorism".
It was only in July that Norway marked the anniversary of the Anders Breivik killings of 2011 when the right-wing fanatic murdered 77 people in the country's worst act of peacetime violence. On Thursday, the nation was mourning again after a brutal spate of killings in the tiny town of Kongsberg.
Flags flew at half-mast across the country and Norway's King, Harald V, said that Norway suffered collective grief and despair after four women and one man were murdered in the town by a man in shops and a supermarket in Kongsberg's old town.
“Norway is a small country. When Kongsberg is hit hard, the rest of the nation stands with you. It is our hope that security will be restored so that fear does not become entrenched," the 84-year-old king, who has a ceremonial role in the country, said.
A town of around 26,000 just over 40 miles southwest of Oslo, Kongsberg was founded as a mining town in the 17th century and is now home to a cluster of defense and technology companies. Parish Priest Reider Aasbow told AP that the murders were "hard to take in".
“I don’t think anyone expects to have these kinds of experiences. But nobody could imagine this could happen here in our little town," he said.
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The attack began at around 6 pm on Wednesday night when police received reports of a man firing a bow and arrow at shoppers in the centre of town.
Although officers arrived minutes later, it was half an hour before the attacker was apprehended, and police have said that some of the victims were killed while he was on the run.
Espen Andersen Braathen, 37, has been described as a convert to Islam who had been on Norway's watch list due to his radical views. It is believed that he was carrying other weapons as well as a bow and arrow. Braathen, who is Danish, will appear in court on Friday.
The attack came as Norway prepares to swear in a new government. Jonas Gahr Stoere came to power at the head of a centre-left coalition last month, ousting Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
Stoere said the violence was "horrible" and pledged that the cabinet would focus on the incident on its first day in office.