Death and despair as the gunman opened fire on the gay bar in Oslo on the day of the Pride march

Death and despair as the gunman opened fire on the gay bar in Oslo on the day of the Pride march
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  • Gunman kills two, injures more than 20
  • Night owls hid in the basement of the bar in Oslo
  • Pride parade canceled after tragedy
  • Norway’s police should carry weapons as a precaution

OSLO, June 25 (Reuters) – Terrified revelers at a gay bar in Oslo hid in a basement and frantically called their loved ones when a gunman rioted on the outskirts of the city, killing two people and injuring more than 20 on the day on which the city was to celebrate its annual Pride parade.

The attack took place in the early hours of Saturday, with victims shot dead inside and outside the London Pub, a longtime center of Oslo’s LGBTQ scene, as well as in the surrounding streets and at another bar in the center of the Norwegian capital.

Billy Blum-Jansen, who was at the London pub, said he fled the hail of bullets into the basement and hid there with 80 to 100 other people.

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“Many called their partners and family, it almost felt like they were saying goodbye. Others helped calm those who were extremely scared,” he told TV2.

“I panicked a bit and thought that if the shooter or shooters got here, we would all be dead. There was no way out.”

A suspect, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, was arrested minutes after the rampage began, according to police, who believed he acted alone. Two guns, including an automatic gun, were recovered from the scene, they added.

“There is reason to believe it could be a hate crime,” police said. “We are investigating whether Pride itself was a target or whether there are other motives.”

Other witnesses described the chaos that broke out inside and outside the London Bar, which has been open since 1979.

“A lot of people were crying and screaming, the injured were screaming, people were distressed and scared — very, very scared,” said Marcus Nybakken, 46, who left the bar just before the shooting and later returned to help.

“My first thought was that Pride was the target, so that’s scary.”

Journalist Olav Roenneberg from public broadcaster NRK said he was in the area at the time and saw a man coming with a bag, drew a gun and started shooting: “Then I saw windows shattered, and understood that I had to take cover.”

Authorities said the attack is also being investigated as a possible act of terrorism. Exactly where the two people were killed in the London bar area was not clear.


The Norwegian police, who are normally unarmed, will now carry guns as a precaution until further notice, said national leader Benedicte Bjoernland. The Norwegian secret service PST added that it was investigating whether there could be further attacks. “Right now we have no indication of that,” PST said.

Oslo Pride organizers canceled Saturday’s parade, citing police advice. “We’ll be proud and visible again soon, but today we’re going to have Pride celebrations at home,” they said.

King Harald of Norway said he and the royal family were devastated by the attack, which police said also left 10 people seriously and 11 slightly injured.

“We must stand together and defend our values: freedom, diversity and respect for one another,” added the 85-year-old monarch.

The shooting came just months after the 50th anniversary of the repeal of a law criminalizing gay sex. The suspect is known to the authorities, also because of less serious acts of violence, the police said.

The Nordic nation of 5.4 million has lower crime rates than many Western countries, although it has experienced hate-motivated shootings, including when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in 2011.

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Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche; Edited by Sam Holmes and Pravin Char

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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