Norway disarms its police officers

Armed police officers are seen in Oslo on December 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

Oslo (AFP) - Norway's police, who have been authorised to carry firearms for the past year due to a heightened threat of Islamist attacks, will be unarmed again now that the threat level has been lowered, police said Friday.

National police chief Odd Reidar Humlegard told reporters the measure would take effect on November 17.

The country's 6,000 uniformed police officers will "have to keep their weapons locked in their patrol cars like they did previously," he said.

Norwegian police were authorised to carry their service weapons on their belts in November 2014 after the country's intelligence service PST raised the threat level because of the risk of an attack.

A year later, the PST said arrests in Jihadist circles and the departure of radicalised militants to the Middle East had significantly reduced the likelihood of an attack and reduced the threat level at the end of October.

Norway's police union, most of whose members want to be allowed to carry their service weapons, called the new directive "a very bad decision."

"The temporary arming (of police) responded to an extraordinary situation. As things stand now, our laws do not allow for systematic arming," Humlegard said.

Norway is known as a generally peaceful country, but was shaken in 2011 by the bloody attacks of right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people.