A Danish man is in custody in Norway over a bow-and-arrow attack that left four women and one man dead. Two people were wounded. The attack took place in the small town of Kongsberg about 42 miles southwest of the capital of Oslo.

The motive for the killings remains unclear, however, the 37-year old Danish citizen will be facing multiple charges. He was arrested by Norwegian police about 20 minutes after the attacks began and is believed to have been acting alone. 

The attacker fired arrows at shoppers in the small Norwegian town of 28,000 people on Wednesday. Police Chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud said there was “a confrontation” between officers and the assailant, but he did not give further details. 

“It took some time from the time our first patrol was on the scene until he was arrested. We will return to a more detailed description of the course of events when we have a better overview of what happened,” he said.

The wounded are an off-duty officer and a shopper. They are both hospitalized in intensive care.

An arrow sticks out of a wall near the scene of deadly bow and arrow attacks in Kongsberg, Norway. (Reuters)

“The man who carried out the act has been arrested by the police, and there is no active search for more people. Based on the information we have, there is one person behind this,” Police Chief Sæverud said.

The attacker has lived in the town for several years. Police said his mother is Danish and his father Norwegian. 

Norwegian police had been in contact with the suspect, a recent convert to Islam, prior to the killings on Wednesday over concerns about possible radicalization, Sæverud said to the media.

“We have some information about the five people who died. There are four women and a man, no one has been formally identified yet. It will take some time. They are all aged 50 to 70 years,” Sæverud added.

According to the police, the suspect, at approximately 6:15 p.m., walked around downtown Kongsberg and began shooting arrows at shoppers. There were several reported crime scenes and police investigators arrived on the scene of each. 

Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg described the attack as “gruesome” and said it was too early to speculate on a motive. “The perpetrator has carried out horrific acts against several people. It is a very dramatic situation that has hit Kongsberg society hard, and the events shake us all,” the Norwegian prime minister said.

Police chief Øyvind Aas speaks to the media after several people were killed and others were injured by a man using a bow and arrow. (AP)

Police chief Øyvind Aas in the county seat of Drammen, where the suspect is being held, said, “It is natural to consider whether it is an act of terrorism. But the man has not been questioned and it is too early to come to any conclusion.”

Norwegian police officers, who are normally not armed but have arms at their disposal, were ordered nationwide to begin carrying firearms following the attack. 

“Due to the serious incident in Kongsberg where several people were killed and injured tonight, the police in Norway are temporarily armed,” the Norwegian Police Directorate said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is an additional emergency measure,” the statement added. “The police currently have no concrete indications that there is a change in the threat level in the country.”