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Kongsberg attack: Perpetrator banned from communication in custody

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The perpetrator of Wednesday”s deadly bow and arrow attack in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg is to be held in custody for four weeks, including two weeks in isolation, a court announced on Friday.

Officers arrested Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen, 30 minutes after he began firing arrows and possibly other weapons in a supermarket and nearby locations.

Five people lost their lives and three more were seriously injured.

Braathen, who confessed to the killings after his arrest, is also banned from communicating with others. He did not appear in court.

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“Reference is made to the extremely serious nature of the case, which has also led to great media interest both nationally and internationally. If the accused is not shielded from this and from other prisoners, important evidence could be lost,” the ruling read.

He is being held on five counts of preliminary murder and three counts of preliminary attempted murder. Preliminary charges are a step short of formal charges. Police said more charges can be brought against him.

Hans Sverre Sjoevold, head of Norway’s PST domestic intelligence service, said Thursday that “the whole act appears to be an act of terror” but cautioned that “we do not know what the motivation of the perpetrator is.”

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Police confirmed on Friday that Braathen has been admitted to a health institution where “he will be subject to full judicial observation to clarify whether he was sane or not at the time of the act.”

They also said that investigators have secured three weapons, including a bow and arrow. Police said they will not say anything on the other weapons for now “for the sake of the investigation.”

On Thursday, authorities had described him as a Muslim convert and said there “earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized.” But neither police nor the domestic intelligence service elaborated or said why they flagged Andersen Braathen or did with the information.

According to Norwegian media, Andersen Braathen has a conviction for burglary and drug possession, and last year a court granted a restraining order for him to stay away from his parents for six months after threatening to kill one of them.

Mass killings are rare in low-crime Norway, and the attack immediately recalled the country’s worst peacetime slaughter a decade ago, when a right-wing domestic extremist killed 77 people with a bomb, a rifle and a pistol.

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