A 37-year-old Danish man in custody after a deadly bow-and-arrow attack in Norway had previously been flagged to police over fears of radicalization, officials said Thursday.
Five people were killed and two others were injured Wednesday night in Kongsberg, a quiet town about 40 miles southwest of the capital, Oslo.
The suspect is a local resident who is a Muslim convert, police said, according to The Associated Press.
“There had previously been concerns of the man having been radicalized,” Police Chief Ole B. Sæverud said at a news conference early Thursday.
Police said that an “extensive investigation” was underway and that they had no indication that others were involved.
Norway’s domestic security agency, known by its initialism, PST, said later Thursday that the killings “currently appear to be an act of terrorism.”
“The investigation will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by,” it said in a statement. It added that the suspect “is previously known to PST, but PST cannot provide further details about him.”
Four women and a man, all ages 50 to 70, were killed in the attack, which took place just after 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) in the city of about 26,000 inhabitants.
The attack began in a supermarket, but victims were found dead in other locations, some of them inside nearby buildings, the prosecutor for Norway’s southeast police district, Ann Irén Svane Mathiassen, said by phone.
Police said all of the killings may have happened in the half-hour between the time officers arrived on the scene and when they captured the suspect.
The two injured survivors were in intensive care. The condition of one of them, an off-duty police officer who was inside the supermarket, was not immediately known.
Police had been in contact with the suspect over radicalization and other crimes, including threats and violence, Svane Mathiassen said.
The suspect was “cooperating with the police and explaining himself in detail about the incident,” his attorney, Fredrik Neumann, told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Wednesday.
Svane Mathiassen said he was being held on preliminary charges of murder and will appear before a judge Friday.
"We’ve not had anything like this before. It’s a big investigation for us, with a lot of people involved,” she said.
“Kongsberg is a small city where a lot of people know those involved. So maybe they know the dead, the injured people, maybe the suspect,” she said.
“This has been a shocking experience for many people.”
Prime Minister-designate Jonas Gahr Støre, who was to take office later Thursday, called the attack “a cruel and brutal act.”
"This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock,” Støre told NRK.
Norway is still grappling with the devastating legacy of a terrorist attack in 2011, when a far-right extremist murdered eight people with a bomb in Oslo city center and shot and killed 69 teenagers at a summer camp at a nearby island.