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Man hailed as hero for thwarting gunman in Norway mosque shooting; police investigate as terror attack

2019-08-12

Police attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo. A gunman who opened fire at a mosque outside Oslo, Norway on Saturday was thwarted by a 65-year-old congregant who put him in a chokehold. The man suffered minor injuries, police said at a press conference. The young, white male, carrying several guns, had expressed far-right and anti-immigrant views online, assistant police chief Rune Skjold told reporters at a press conference. (Terje Pedersen/AP)

A gunman who opened fire at a mosque outside Oslo, Norway was thwarted by a 65-year-old congregant who put him in a chokehold, authorities said Sunday.

The shooting happened Saturday at the al-Noor Islamic Centre near the Norwegian capital, when the suspect, a man in his 20s, burst through a glass door just after 4 p.m. and started firing, Oslo police official Rune Skjold told reporters.

Retired Pakistani Air Force officer Mohammad Rafiq, 65, approached the attacker first, the mosque said.

“I suddenly heard shooting from outside,” Rafiq told Reuters. He intercepted and grabbed the gunman, who stuck his finger in Rafiq’s eye. Another man ran up to help.

“The man carried two shotgun-like weapons and a pistol. He broke through a glass door and fired shots,” mosque board member Irfan Mushtaq told TV2, according to The Independent.

Rafiq suffered minor injuries, police said. He is being hailed as a hero.

“There is no doubt that the swift and firm response from the persons inside the mosque stopped the aggressor and prevented further consequences,” Skjold told BBC News.

The suspect, a young, white male carrying several guns, had expressed far-right and anti-immigrant views online, said Skjold. The shooter wore body armor and a helmet, police said.

“We’re investigating this as an attempt at carrying out an act of terrorism,” he said.

Police are also eyeing the suspect in the death of his 17-year-old stepsister. Her body was found at his home, BBC News reported. Police ruled her death suspicious, BBC News said, but did not elaborate.

As of late Sunday, the suspect’s name had not been released.

Reuters said only three people were inside at the time. They were preparing for the holiest Islamic holiday, Eid-al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” the next day.

With News Wire Services