Shooting in popular Norway gay venue is a suspected hate crime

Oslo’s Pride celebrations have been cancelled after a gunman left two people dead after a mass shooting incident in the city’s centre. Alongside the two deaths, 21 other people were injured in what police have described as an “extreme Islamic terror act”.

One of the venues where the violent attacked occurred was the popular LGBTIQA+ venue London Pub, the incident occurring in the early morning just hours before the start of the city’s Pride celebrations.

Police have confirmed the gunman who was arrested shortly after the shootings had a “long history of violence and threats.”

Authorities have arrested a 42-year-old Norwegian national who is of Iranian origin. The man was arrested within minutes of the attacks and is believed to be the sole perpetrator. Police seized a pistol and and automatic weapon. The attack took place just after 1.00am.

Police say they will investigate if the Pride celebrations themselves were the focus of the attack. The gunman attacked people at three different venues beginning with the London Pub, nearby Herr Nilsen jazz club and takeaway food outlet.

Organisers of the city’s Pride parade called off their event which scheduled to take place on Saturday, citing police advice.

“Warm thoughts and love go to relatives, the injured and others affected. We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will hold and share Pride celebrations from home,” said Inger Kristin Haugsevje, the leader of Oslo Pride.

Norway’s Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre,  described the incident as a “terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people”. The PM said that while the motivations for the shooting were not yet clear, he reassured the local LGBTIQA+ community that they had his support.

“We don’t know yet know what is behind this terrible act”, he said. “But to the queer people who are afraid and in mourning, I want to say we stand together with you.”

The London Pub also offered a message to their patrons saying, “Tonight’s shooting is absolutely horrific and pure evil. Our thoughts go to the dead, injured and relatives. All employees in London are safe and physically unharmed. Take care of each other during this time.”

Graeme Watson 

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