STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — A man suspected of stabbing three people to death during an attack on a bus in rural Norway was due to have been deported on Tuesday after the country rejected his application for asylum, police said.
Police spokeswoman Eli Anne Tvergrov said the 31-year-old suspect is from South Sudan and had been living at a reception center for asylum seekers in the nearby town of Aardal.
The man, who was not named, was due to have been arrested on Tuesday and sent back to Spain to have his application for asylum reviewed there, said Linda Hafstad of the Norwegian National Police Immigration Center.
Under European Union regulations, which also are followed by non-EU member Norway, asylum requests are supposed to be processed in the European country of initial entry, which in the suspect's case was Spain.
Police allege the man boarded the bus in a remote, mountainous area near Aardal on Monday and stabbed to death the other occupants on board: two men in their 50s — the Norwegian bus driver and a Swedish male passenger — and a 19-year-old Norwegian woman.
The suspect was apprehended by rescuers from the fire department and ambulance staff who were the first to arrive on what they thought was an accident scene, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from where he was thought to have boarded the bus. Police formally arrested the man later.
Police prosecutor Joern Lasse Refsnes said the suspect was still in the hospital being treated for minor cuts and was aware that his asylum application in Norway had been rejected. He said that the motive for the stabbings was still unclear.
"We have spoken to him, but we are waiting to interview him properly," Refsnes said. "He knew his status in his asylum case, but we don't know whether he knew he'd be transported out of the country today."
Norwegian authorities initially called the situation a hijacking, but Refsnes acknowledged they were not sure exactly what happened on the bus. He declined further comment on the issue.
Investigators also plan to interview other asylum seekers at the reception center, he said.
Multiple killings are rare in Norway, though the country was shocked by its worst peacetime massacre two years ago when a right-wing extremist killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage.