A 65-year-old man who tackled a gunman who stormed a mosque in Norway is being hailed as a hero.
Witnesses said Mohamed Rafiq (ex Pakistan Air Force Officer) restrained the terror suspect and held him down with another worshipper before police arrived, despite being injured in the struggle.
Mr Rafiq was among three people at the al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum on Saturday, when a man burst in with “two shotgun-like weapons and a pistol”.
The attacker, who was reportedly wearing a uniform and body armour, broke through a glass door to reach the place of worship, where people were preparing to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.
Speaking to press outside a nearby hotel on Sunday, Mr Rafiq said: “I’m thankful for all of the help and support I have received.”
He told how he held the gunman down while another worshipper, Mohamed Iqbal, hit him on the head.
Irfan Mushtaq, board member of the mosque, said that minutes before the shooting on Sunday afternoon around 15 people had been inside the building.
The suspect has been named as Philip Manshaus, a 21-year-old local man.
A post on an online messaging board suggested he was a far-right extremist inspired by the Christchurch, Poway and El Paso shooters
Police are investigating the shooting as a potential terror attack, and have arrested a local white man in his 20s on suspicion of attempted murder.
The same man is also accused of killing his 17-year-old stepsister, whose body was found at her home.
“We’re investigating this as an attempt at carrying out an act of terrorism,” assistant chief of police Rune Skjold told a news conference on Sunday.
“We have uncovered extreme right-wing attitudes. The defendant has expressed opinions in which he praises [Norwegian fascist and Nazi collaborator] Quisling and is hostile towards immigration.”
Mr Skjold praised the “great courage” shown by Mr Rafiq and Mr Iqbal in restraining the gunman after several shots were fired, adding: “There is no doubt that their efforts prevented this from having entirely different consequences.”
The suspect remains in custody and is undergoing a psychiatric assessment, officials said.
The mosque earlier this year implemented extra security measures following the massacre of more than 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch.
In 2011, white supremacist Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity, the majority of them teenagers at a youth camp.