The man accused of killing five people with a bow and arrow in Norway was probably suffering with a mental illness at the time of the deadly attack, police say.

Psychiatrists are deciding whether Espen Andersen Bråthen, 37, was aware of his actions at the time he allegedly murdered four women and one man in a half-hour rampage in Kongsberg, a town 42 miles from Norway on Wednesday.

Bråthen is accused of having fired lethal arrows at people in various locations across the town in what local authorities said "appears to be an act of terrorism".

In video footage posted on YouTube in 2017 and later taken down, Bråthen said in both English and in his native tongue: “Hello. I am a messenger. I come with a warning.

"Is this really what you want? And to all who want to make up for themselves, so it’s time. Bear witness that I am a Muslim.”

People were assaulted on the street and the attacker forced his way into homes and supermarkets during the incident.

Four women and one man were killed during the half-four rampage (

Image:

via REUTERS)

Officers had looked into several lines of inquiry, including "anger, revenge, impulse, jihad, illness, provocation," police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told a news conference.

"The hypothesis that has been strengthened the most in the first days of the investigation is that the background is illness," Omholt said.

The suspect is being held in a locked "psychiatric institution" and other lines of inquiry were still being pursued, he added.

Hanne Englund, a ceramic artist in her fifties, has been named locally as one of the five people murdered in the attack.

Ceramic artist Mrs Englund worked from a studio attached to her home where she lived with her husband around 300 yards from the Coop supermarket in a town centre square where the incident unfolded.

A student also told Reuters how he and his friends shut themselves in his bedroom as the attacker tried to get into his home.

Police had earlier said Braathen was a convert to Islam who had shown signs of radicalisation, with the attack appearing to be an "act of terror".

On Friday, Omholt said Braathen had acknowledged killing the victims but had not pleaded guilty.

Bråthen has previous convictions for theft and drug possession (

Image:

NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

Norway’s PST security service became aware in 2015 that Brathen had become a Muslim and was “a vulnerable person who could be about to be radicalised”, revealed PST counter-terrorism chief Arne Christian Haugstoyl.

Bråthen is Danish, with a Danish mother and Norwegian father, and according to authorities had lived in the town for several years.

He is said to have been suffering from untreated mental health problems and had previous convictions for aggravated theft and possession of small amounts of hashish.

In 2020 he was reportedly issued with a restraining order preventing him from seeing his parents after he allegedly threatened to kill his father.

The murdered victims were four women and one man aged between 50 and 70.

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