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Two arrested in Oslo after hijacked ambulance was driven at crowds

Richard Orange
Police officers apprehend the armed man who stole an ambulance - via REUTERS

Police in Norway have arrested a man believed to be connected to the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement after he hijacked an ambulance and ran amok through northern Oslo, driving up onto the pavement, hitting pedestrians.

During the 15-minute rampage, the 32 year old hit a pushchair carrying seven-month-old twins and narrowly missed an elderly couple. Thankfully none of the victims were seriously injured. 

"The perpetrator hijacked the ambulance with a shotgun and tried to escape. He deliberately drove the car up onto the pavement to hit random people, and also tried to hit a police car," Johan Fredriksen, operations chief at the Oslo Police told Norway's public broadcaster NRK. 

He said the police had tried and failed to stop the ambulance three times by firing off shots before it was halted.  It then crashed into a gate by a building, after which eyewitnesses said police smashed the windscreen and pulled the man from inside.

Images showed that the ambulance had several bullet holes in the front left door.

Inside the vehicle, police found the shotgun, an Uzi submachine gun, and large quantities of drugs. 

The man has been charged with attempted murder, while a 25-year-old woman, who was also allegedly involved, has been charged with weapons offences. Before the woman was seized shortly before 4pm, police said she appeared to be "intoxicated".

According to NRK, the man has been previously convicted for a long list of offences, including making illegal threats, using a firearm, drugs offences, vandalism and theft. 

Several independent sources have told the broadcaster that he has distributed propaganda for the Nordic Resistance Movement, although they said he was not a member of the neo-Nazi group.

Norway is highly prepared for far-Right terrorist attacks, after 77 people were killed in the brutal gun and bomb massacre mounted in 2011 by Anders Breivik.    

At the press conference, senior Oslo police officer Grete Lien Metlid said investigators were "familiar with the information" about the man's far-Right links, but said it was too early to judge what role, if any, they had played in the attack.  

"What was the purpose? What was the motive? We cannot answer this at such an early stage of the investigation," he said.

According to the Dagbladet newspaper, police suspect that the man may have hijacked the ambulance after crashing the car he was driving. 

Police officers apprehend the armed man who stole an ambulance Credit: Cathrine Hellesoy/Aftenposten/NTB Scanpix via REUTERS

Shortly before the hijack began at 12.30pm on Tuesday, a person believed to be the alleged perpetrator was photographed carrying a blue Ikea bag so heavily loaded that he had to carry it with both hands. 

In early 2017, the man was involved in a police car chase after he refused to stop for a breathalyser test. He then shut himself up in a property, after which police negotiated with him for several hours.

When they finally gained access, they found what was described as "a fire bomb" inside the property.

The man was jailed for four weeks for the offences, despite the court warning in its judgement that there was "a strong degree of probability that the defendant [would] again commit similar crimes to those with which he is charged if released". 

The man has also long struggled with drug problems, and has previously been sentenced to compulsory drug treatment. 

Annette Aamodt, senior advisor at Norway's PST police security service, told the Daily Telegraph that she agreed with police that it was too early to judge whether the hijack had been intended as a terror attack. 

"It's too early to say that it has anything to do with the extreme right, or if it's to do with crime," she said. "We're cooperting closely with the Oslo police district and we're doing assessments on a wide scale to figure out whether this will affect the threat level in Norway." 

Oslo University Hospital has confirmed that none of the three employees who were in the ambulance at the time of the hijack had been injured, and that two twins had "only minor injuries".