Polar bear injures French woman on Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands

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A French tourist has been injured in a polar bear attack at a campsite in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands.

The animal is believed to have attacked a tour group of 25 people at Sveasletta, early on Monday morning.

Authorities in the remote Arctic region say the woman’s injuries to her arm were not life-threatening. She was flown by helicopter to the hospital in the main town, Longyearbyen.

“Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area,” chief superintendent Stein Olav Bredli told reporters. The injured animal was later found and killed by authorities.

The incident occurred in the central region of the Svalbard archipelago, more than 800 kilometres north of the Norwegian mainland.

Visitors to the islands are strongly advised to carry firearms if they plan to sleep outdoors, due to the presence of around 1,000 polar bears in the Norwegian Arctic.

At least six people have been killed by bears since the 1970s, the most recent being a 38-year-old Dutch national in 2020.

In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent north of Longyearbyen and clawed his back before being driven away by gunshots. The bear was later found and killed by authorities.