Muslim men at a Norway mosque overpowered a gunman who fired shots at them in a terror attack, foiling an attack and preventing any loss of life and holding the suspect until police arrived.
Oslo police on Sunday praised the men for their “great courage” in confronting an armed attacker. The shooting took place Saturday inside the al-Noor Islamic Centre in the Bærum municipality, west of Oslo.
“There is no doubt that their efforts prevented this from having entirely different consequences,” Rune Skjold of the Oslo police said in a statement.
The suspect, described as a 20-year-old white man from the local area, was not identified by police, but investigators said he had shown far-right and anti-immigrant sentiments. The attack was being investigated as terrorism, and authorities were also investigating a message board post whose author claimed to be the suspect and praised the lethal attacks in March at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
On Saturday, three men were inside the al-Noor Islamic Centre, preparing for Sunday’s Eid al-Adha celebrations, Norwegian media reported.
When the suspect, armed with multiple guns, entered the room and began shooting, 65-year-old Mohammad Rafiq tackled him.
Rafiq, a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, described struggling with the gunman in an interview with Reuters.
“He put the finger inside my eye up to there, the whole finger,” Rafiq said, his face still showing signs of the fight.
He was the only person injured at the mosque; police said multiple gunshots were fired, but none struck anyone. One of the other men, identified by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK as Mohamed Iqbal, rushed to Rafiq’s aid and helped subdue the gunman until authorities arrived.
“We have two heroes here today,” Irfan Mushtaq, a board member at the mosque, told NRK.