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Norway Police Could Have Prevented Last Year’s Gay Bar Shooting, Report Says

OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian police could have prevented a deadly rampage at a gay bar last year if they had acted on a tip-off from the foreign intelligence agency, seven experts said Thursday in a report Oslo’s governing mayor described as “devastating”.

Two people died, nine suffered gunshot wounds and 25 others were injured after a shooting at the London Pub, a longstanding hub of Oslo’s LGBTQ+ scene, as well as a nearby bar in the center of the Norwegian capital.

“It is possible that the attack could have been avoided after a warning PST received from the e-service five days before the attack,” seven experts from a range of fields including policing, communications and psychiatry said in the police-commissioned report.

PST is Norway’s security police, while the e-service is the foreign intelligence agency.

The attack could also have been stopped if PST had taken preventive steps against the shooter, who was already known to the service, in the months before the attack.

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The PST also failed to share the intelligence it had about the shooter with police officers in charge of the surveillance of radicalized individuals.

“This is a devastating report,” Oslo’s governing mayor, Raymond Johansen, told public broadcaster NRK. “It’s totally unacceptable.”

PST apologized to the victims, their relatives and the nation immediately after the report.

“We in PST apologize for the eventual mistaken assessments made and their consequences,” PST chief Beate Gangaas told a news conference, adding that she would follow up internally on the recommendations from the commission.

The suspected shooter, who was stopped by revelers minutes after the attack, is Zaniar Matapour, a 43-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin whom police say is a radicalized Islamist with a history of mental illness.

He is suspected of murder, attempted murder and terrorism. It is unclear how he will plead to the charges against him. His lawyer, Marius Dietrichson, was not immediately available for comment.

Formal charges may only be brought against Matapour in the run-up to the trial.

The LGBTQ+ community is preparing for the one-year anniversary of the attack on June 25 and the annual Pride celebration on June 23-July 1. Already rainbow flags have been raised in schools and other public buildings around the city.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters,

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