OSLO - A bomb ripped through Oslo's central government district on
Friday killing seven people, police said, and hours later a gunman
opened fire at a youth camp on a nearby island, killing nine or ten people.
One witness said he saw 20 dead at the youth camp, but police said they had no confirmation of deaths on the island.
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seen it with my own eyes, at least 20 dead people lying in the water,"
Andre Skeie, 26, told Reuters by telephone. He said he had gone to
Utoeya island with his boat to help people evacuate the island after the
Police said they arrested a suspect in the shooting attack and said they believed there was a connection between the two attacks.
The Oslo bomb blew out the windows of the prime minister's building, damaged the finance and oil ministries and
scattered glass and masonry across the streets.
A Reuters witness
said he had seen soldiers taking up positions around the center of the
capital, while police said they feared there might be explosives at the
police advising people to evacuate central Oslo, apparently in fear of
more attacks, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Norwegian
TV2 television in a phone call that the situation was "very serious". He
said that police had told him not to say where he was speaking from.
exploded -- it must have been a bomb. People ran in panic...I counted
at least 10 injured people," said bystander Kjersti Vedun, who was
leaving the area of the blast in Oslo.
Shortly after the bomb, a gunman described by a police official as tall
and blond opened fire at the island of Utoeya north-west of Oslo,
sending people scattering in terror. The target was a youth camp of
Stoltenberg's Labor party youth section.
"There was a lot of shooting...We hid under a bed. It was very
terrifying," a young woman present at the island youth camp told British
Sky television. She said police helicopters were flying overhead.
Daily newspaper VG said on its website the gunman had been dressed as a policeman.
Norwegian commercial broadcaster TV2 said several people had been killed in the shooting spree.
There was no clear claim of responsibility and while the attacks
appeared to bear the hallmarks of an Islamist militant assault, analysts
said it was too early to draw any conclusions.
NATO member Norway has been the target of threats before over its involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya.
The attack came just over a year after three men were arrested on
suspicion of having links to al-Qaida and planning to attack targets in
Norway. It came also less than three months after US forces killed Osama
bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Pakistan.
Violence or the threat of it has already come to the other Nordic
states: a botched bomb attack took place in the Swedish capital
Stockholm last December and the bomber was killed.
Denmark has received repeated threats after a newspaper published
cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in late 2005, angering Muslims
The Oslo blast tore at the facade of the 17-story central government
building, blowing out most of the windows and scattering shards of metal
and other debris for hundreds of meters (yards).
The building of a publisher which recently put out a translation of a
Danish book on the Mohammad cartoon controversy was also affected, but
was apparently not the target.
The blast scattered debris across the streets and shook the entire city
centre at around 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT). A Reuters witness saw eight
people injured, one covered in a sheet and apparently dead.'Most violent event in Norway since WWII'
Madrid suffered an Islamist militant bomb attack on commuter trains in
2004 that killed 191 people. Four suicide bombers killed 52 people in an
attack on London's transport system in 2005.
The Reuters correspondent said the streets had been fairly quiet in
mid-afternoon on a Friday in high summer, when many Oslo residents take
vacation or leave for weekend breaks.
"This is a terror attack. It is the most violent event to strike Norway
since World War Two," said Geir Bekkevold, an opposition parliamentarian
for the Christian Peoples Party.
The district attacked is the very heart of power in Norway, with several other key administration buildings nearby.
Nearby ministries were also hit by the blast, including the oil
ministry, which was on fire. Nevertheless, security is not tight given
the lack of violence in the past.
The failed December attack in Stockholm was by a Muslim man who grew up
in Sweden but said he had been angered by Sweden's involvement in the
NATO-led force in Afghanistan and the Prophet Mohammad cartoons.
That attack was followed weeks later by the arrest in Denmark of five
men for allegedly planning to attack the newspaper which first ran the
In July 2010, Norwegian police arrested three men for an alleged plot to
organize at least one attack on Norwegian targets and said they were
linked to individuals investigated in the United States and Britain.
John Drake, senior risk consultant at London-based consultancy AKE,
said: "It may not be too dissimilar to the terrorist attack in Stockholm
in December which saw a car bomb and secondary explosion shortly after
in the downtown area.
"That attack was later claimed as a reprisal for Sweden's contribution to the efforts in Afghanistan."
Political violence is virtually unknown in a country known for awarding
the Nobel Peace Prize and mediating in conflicts, including in the
Middle East and Sri Lanka.
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