OSLO, Norway – Attackers fired shots into the Oslo apartment of a Kurdish cleric who founded an Iraqi-based militant group, injuring one of his relatives, Norwegian police said.
Mullah Krekar, the 53-year-old founder of the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, was not hurt in the shooting early Monday, but his son-in-law was shot in the arm and taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.
Witnesses saw two men fleeing the scene, but police said in a statement they had no suspects. They were also investigating whether a car that was set ablaze in a nearby parking lot shortly after the shooting was connected to the incident.
Investigators are treating the incident as attempted murder but it's not clear whether Krekar was the intended target, said Grethe Lien Metlid, of the Oslo police force's violent crimes unit.
Krekar, born Najm al-Din Faraj Ahmad, founded Ansar al-Islam while a refugee in Norway. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and others. It is suspected of having carried out suicide bombings against coalition forces in Iraq.
Krekar's lawyer, Brynjar Meling, told broadcaster NRK the shooters tried to break into the apartment before firing in what he said appeared to be "a well-planned and professional attack."
He did not say whether he believed any specific group was responsible for the shooting, though he acknowledged that Krekar frequently receives threats.
Metlid said "several shots" were fired around 2 a.m. local time from a covered walkway outside the fifth-floor apartment.
She said five people — Krekar, his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law — were in the apartment at the time. The son-in-law, identified only as a 27-year-old man visiting from London, was the only person injured. His wounds were not serious and he was released from the hospital after receiving treatment, Metlid said.
On Monday afternoon, police were still interviewing neighbors in the five-story apartment complex with a peeling teal interior in Oslo's largely immigrant Toeyen neighborhood.
The kitchen window of Krekar's apartment had three bullet holes and a larger hole where part of the pane had been shot out. Inam Ullah, a 40-year-old bus driver who lives next door to Krekar, told The Associated Press that he initially thought the gunshots were fireworks.
"I thought maybe it was drunk kids making noise. I was surprised when the police came," he said.
He described Krekar's family as "very quiet" and "good neighbors," a "family (that) never causes any trouble."
Krekar has said he no longer leads Ansar al-Islam, and denies links to Al Qaeda. The United Nations in December 2006 added him to a list of people believed associated with Al Qaeda.
Norway ordered the cleric deported in 2005 after declaring him a national security threat, but authorities have refused to expel him because of the security situation in Iraq.