• Sunday, October 01, 2023


Norway intelligence agency apologises over Oslo Pride shooting

Zaniar Matapour, a Norwegian of Pakistani origin, was arrested soon after the attack last year

A photo taken on June 26, 2022 shows a building in which the suspected gunman, Zaniar Matapour, who opened fire in the early hours of June 25 and killed two and wounded 21, is said to have lived, in Oslo. (Photo by TERJE PEDERSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

NORWAY’S domestic intelligence service apologised on Thursday (8) after a report concluded it could have prevented a shooting on the sidelines of Oslo’s Pride festival last year that left two dead.

On the night of June 25, 2022, a man opened fire outside a gay bar in central Oslo during the Pride festival, killing two men, aged 54 and 60, and wounding nine others.

Just after the attack, police arrested the suspect, Zaniar Matapour, a 43-year-old Norwegian of Pakistani origin who had contacts with a known Islamist in Norway, Arfan Bhatti.

The motive for the attack has yet to be officially established.

But a report commissioned by the chief of police and the PST intelligence service, published on Thursday, concluded that it would have been “possible” to prevent the shooting if agents had followed up on early warning signs.

The PST was criticised for failing to take preventive measures despite information suggesting that Bhatti could use Matapour for an act of “political violence”, as well as for lowering its surveillance of Bhatti, who posted an image on Facebook of an LGBT flag in flames a few days before the shooting.

It also came under fire for not keeping a close eye on Matapour despite a June 20 warning from the Norwegian military about the risk of an imminent “terror attack” that suggested the involvement of Bhatti, who was known to be abroad at the time.

“We apologise for any potential evaluation errors that were made and the consequences these had,” PST chief Beate Gangas said after the report was published.

Matapour was quickly overpowered by passers-by and found to be carrying a hundred rounds of ammunition for his weapons.

“It could have turned into one of the deadliest attacks in Europe in years,” said the head of evaluation committee, Pia Therese Jansen.

Twenty-five other people were injured in the chaos that followed the shooting.

Matapour is currently in custody on suspicions of a terrorist act, but has yet to be charged. His trial could take place in 2024.

Bhatti, who is suspected of being an accessory, has been arrested in Pakistan and Norwegian authorities are seeking his extradition.

Two other people are also being held as suspects in the case.


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