OSLO: A Norwegian riot policeman stands in front of the Al-Noor Islamic Center mosque where a gunman, armed with multiple weapons, went on a shooting spree in the town of Baerum. – AFP

OSLO: A gunman
armed with multiple weapons opened fire in a mosque near the Norwegian capital
Oslo yesterday, injuring one person before being overpowered by an elderly
worshipper, police and witnesses said. The head of the mosque described the
assailant, who was later arrested by police, as white and said he was wearing a
helmet and a uniform. Police were alerted to the shooting at the al-Noor
Islamic centre in the Oslo suburb of Baerum shortly after 4 pm (1400 GMT).
“There has been a shooting episode inside the mosque,” Oslo police said on

Police first
reported that the victim had been shot, but later said one person had sustained
“minor injuries” and that it was unclear if they were gunshot wounds. Norway
was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a rightwing extremist in July
2011, when 77 people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik. Police said there
was no indication that more people than the “young man” arrested were involved
in yeterday’s incident, but that they had no further information about the

‘Blood on the

“One of our
members has been shot by a white man with a helmet and uniform,” Irfan Mushtaq,
head of the mosque, told local newspaper Budstikka. Mushtaq told another
Norwegian newspaper, VG, that the man had carried multiple weapons, but that he
had been subdued by a member of the mosque. Mushtaq said he had arrived at the
scene shortly after being alerted about the gunman, and had gone to the back of
the building while waiting for police to arrive. “Then I see that there are
cartridges scattered and blood on the carpets, and I see one of our members is
sitting on the perpetrator, covered in blood,” Mushtaq told VG.

He said the man
who apparently overpowered the shooter was 75 years old and had been reading
the Holy Quran after a prayer session. According to Mushtaq, the mosque had not
received any threats ahead of the shooting. The Norwegian Police Security
Service (PST) said it was monitoring the situation. “We’re following the events
and are continuingly evaluating. It’s to early to draw any conclusions,” Martin
Bernsen, information director at PST, told public broadcaster NRK.

There has been
recent spate of white nationalist attacks in the West, including in the United
States and in New Zealand where 51 Muslim worshippers were killed in March in
shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The al-Noor Islamic
centre in Norway shares its name with the worst affected mosque in the New
Zealand attacks. Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in in March after
the Christchurch massacre and that officials there had said security would be

The suspect in
the Christchurch killings wrote a hate-filled manifesto in which he said he was
influenced by far-right ideologues including the Norwegian mass murderer
Breivik. Breivik, who said he was motivated by his hatred of multiculturalism,
detonated a massive bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and then opened fire
on a gathering of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utoya, killing
another 69 people, most of them teenagers. – AFP