Oslow, Norway: Suspected Terrorist Bomb Wrecks Government Offices Killing At Least Two People Many Injured: UPDATED

22 Jul

By Walter Gibbs and Alister Doyle | Reuters – 

In this video image taken from television, smoke is seen billowing from a damaged building as debris is strewn across the street after an explosion in Oslo, Norway Friday July 22, 2011. A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister's office, injuring several people. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe, government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/TV2 NORWAY via APTN) NORWAY OUT

In this video image taken from television, smoke is seen billowing from a damaged building as debris is strewn …more across the street after an explosion in Oslo, Norway Friday July 22, 2011. A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister’s office, injuring several people. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe, government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/TV2 NORWAY via

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Video: Explosion rocks Oslo Gov’t offices

The scene after an explosion in Oslo, Norway, Friday July 22, 2011. A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister's office, injuring several people. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe, government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste told The Associated Press. (AP PHOTO / Holm Morten, Scanpix) NORWAY OUTView Gallery

The scene after an explosion in Oslo, Norway, Friday July 22, 2011. A loud explosion …

OSLO (Reuters) – A huge bomb devastated the main government building in Norway’s capital Oslo on Friday, and state radio said two people were killed and several others wounded.

Though the attack was on the very heart of power in the small Nordic state, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was safe. There was no claim of responsibility.

“This is very serious,” Stoltenberg told Norwegian TV2 television in a phone call. He added it was too early to say if the blast was a terrorist attack. He said that police had advised him not to say where he was speaking from.

NATO member Norway has been the target of threats, if not bombs, before, notably 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 Qaeda and planning to attack targets in Norway.

“It 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.

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 worldwide.

The Oslo blast tore at the facade of the 17-storey 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.

NRK state radio said at least two people were killed while another station, NTB, quoted a police chief as confirming it was a bomb.

A Reuters reporter at the scene said the blast scattered debris across the streets and shook the entire city center around 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT). He saw eight people injured, one covered in a sheet and apparently dead.

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.

The tangled wreckage of a car was outside one building. This, as well as the damage to the buildings, appeared to witnesses to be consistent with a car bomb.

“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.

“So far I can confirm that we have received seven people at Oslo University Hospital,” a press officer at the clinic said.

“I don’t know how seriously wounded they are.”

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.

CARTOONS

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 Mohammad cartoons.

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.”

NATO member Norway has sometimes in the past been threatened by leaders of al Qaeda for its involvement in Afghanistan.

It has also taken part in the NATO bombing of Libya, whose leader Muammar Gaddafi has threatened to strike back in Europe.

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.

David Lea, Western Europe analyst at Control Risks, said: “There certainly aren’t any domestic Norwegian terrorist groups although there have been some al Qaeda-linked arrests from time to time. They are in Afghanistan and were involved in Libya, but it’s far too soon to draw any conclusions.”

(Additional reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, Peter Apps and William Maclean in London and Patrick Lannin in Stockholm; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

NEWS UPDATE:

 

LONDON (Reuters) – A massive bomb shattered Norway’s main government building in Oslo Friday, killing two people, police were quoted as saying by local news agency NTB.

There was no claim of responsibility, though NATO member Norway has been the target of threats, if not bombs, before, notably over its involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was safe, NTB said.

Here are details of some of the Islamist militant groups with a record of links to plots in Europe.

* AL QAEDA:

— Al Qaeda is seen as the militant group that poses the more serious international threat because it is has highly experienced bombmakers and a long-established transnational networks of financial, logistical and ideological support.

— Though the militant group led by Osama bin Laden was weakened after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, it has survived by deepening its alliances to local militants in the Afghan-Pakistan border area where he is believed to be hiding and by cultivating affiliate groups in other regions.

— In an audiotape released in January 2010, bin Laden claimed responsibility for the December 25 attempted bombing of a U.S-bound plane and said it was a continuation of al Qaeda policy since the September 11 attacks.

* ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZBEKISTAN:

— The IMU emerged from the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan and has also fought in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan with the aim of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

— With many of its supporters holed up in the tribal areas of Pakistan, it has forged close links with al Qaeda.

— Earlier this month intelligence sources said there was a plot against European targets reportedly originating with a group in mountainous northern Pakistan, some of them believed to be European citizens.

— One security official in Germany said word of the plot had probably come from the interrogation of a German-Afghan suspect in Afghanistan. The suspect was identified by media as Ahmed Sidiqi, a German of Afghan origin and IMU member.

– German media said he came from Hamburg and had been held in the U.S. military prison of Bagram in Afghanistan since July.

— Counter-terrorism expert Guido Steinberg said Sidiqi was a member of a cell of militants from Hamburg that was believed to be a central component of the conspiracy and he said that the cell left for Pakistan in March 2009 and joined the IMU.

* LASHKAR-E-TAIBA/JAISH-E-MOHAMMED:

— Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed are militant groups based in Pakistan’s Punjab province and once nurtured by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in Kashmir. They have since been banned.

— Western security sources say both are obvious points of contact for Europeans traveling to Pakistan seeking help to travel to the tribal areas to join up with al Qaeda.

— Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people, has generally focused on Kashmir and India, though it has been linked in the past to some plots in the west.

— David Headley, an American arrested in Chicago in 2009, has pleaded guilty of working with Lashkar-e-Taiba to plot attacks in India, including surveillance of targets in Mumbai.

Headley is also charged with plotting a revenge attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

— LeT’s humanitarian wing, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, enjoys support in the Pakistani Diaspora and security sources have said they feared LeT could exploit this network to facilitate an al Qaeda-inspired attack on the west.

— Jaish-e-Mohammed has also been linked to plots in the west. It is seen as closer to al Qaeda than Lashkar-e-Taiba.

* AL SHABAAB:

— Al Shabaab, which means “Youth” in Arabic, has taken control of large areas of south and central Somalia. The Horn of Africa nation has been mired in anarchy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

— Somali officials said the bomber who killed 22 people, including three government ministers, at a graduation ceremony in December 2009 was a 26-year-old Danish citizen of Somali descent. One of the bombers that struck an African Union base in September 2009 was reportedly from Seattle, while about 20 young men were said to have disappeared from Minneapolis’s large Somali community in the last two years to join al Shabaab.

— Shabaab’s external reach has been highlighted after January 2010’s attack on cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in Copenhagen, as well as its pledge to support Yemeni insurgents linked to al Qaeda who are believed to be behind the foiled Christmas Day bombing of a commercial airliner over Detroit.

— It also claimed responsibility for the attack in Uganda in July 2010 when bombers killed 79 people in Kampala at venues packed with fans watching the World Cup final.

TEHRIK-E-TALIBAN PAKISTAN:

— The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, is the group most influenced by al Qaeda and focuses on attacking the Pakistani state, which it considers illegitimate.

— The TTP claimed responsibility for an attack in Mohmand, a Pashtun region on the northwestern border with Afghanistan which killed 102 people and wounded at least 80.

— Earlier this month a British man, Abdul Jabbar, reportedly killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, had ties with the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani intelligence official said. The man had also been in the process of setting up a branch for the Taliban in Britain.

— The TTP in September had threatened attacks on the United States and Europe. Shahzad was the closest it came to success.

* AQIM:

— Led by Abdelmalek Droukdel, AQIM burst onto the public stage in January 2007, a product of the rebranding of fighters previously known as Algeria’s Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

— The Salafists had waged war against Algeria’s security forces but in late 2006 they sought to adopt a broader jihadi ideology by allying themselves with al Qaeda.

— Security officials were particularly concerned that rebels, who belong to AQIM, could use cash from drug smuggling to recruit new fighters and finance violent attacks.

— U.S. officials have said traffickers use the Sahara as a staging post for flying illegal drugs from South America into Europe and that AQIM could also tap into the smugglers’ network of aircraft and secret landing strips.

NEWS UPDATE: LABOUR YOUTH CAMP ATTACKED BY RAMPAGING GUNMAN:

People are treated at the scene after an explosion in Oslo, Norway, Friday July 22, 2011. A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister's office, injuring several people. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe, government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste told The Associated Press. (AP PHOTO / Holm Morten, Scanpix) NORWAY OUT

People are treated at the scene after an explosion in Oslo, Norway, Friday July 22, …

In this video image taken from television, smoke is seen billowing from a damaged building as debris is strewn across the street after an explosion in Oslo, Norway Friday July 22, 2011. A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister's office, injuring several people. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe, government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/TV2 NORWAY via APTN) NORWAY OUT

In this video image taken from television, smoke is seen billowing from a damaged …

 

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Police say they are sending anti-terror police to a youth camp outside Oslo after reports of a shooting there following the bomb blast at the government headquarters.

The news site VG reported that a man dressed in a police uniform opened fire at the camp. It says several people were injured.

Oslo police chief Anstein Gjengdal said anti-terror units were being sent to the camp at Utoya, outside the Norwegian capital.

He had no other information on that incident, which came hours after a bomb blast outside the government headquarters killed at least two people and injured 15.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

OSLO, Norway (AP) — A powerful bomb tore into the heart of Norway on Friday, killing at least two people and injuring 15 as it ripped open buildings including the prime minister’s office. It was the deadliest bombing ever in Oslo, normally associated with the Nobel Peace Prize that is awarded there.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was working at home Friday and was unharmed, according to senior adviser Oivind Ostang.

The square where the bomb exploded was covered in twisted metal and shattered glass, and carpeted in documents expelled from the surrounding buildings, which house government offices and the headquarters of some of Norway’s leading newspapers. Most of the windows were shattered in the 20-floor high rise where the prime minister and his administration works.

Oslo police said the explosion was caused by “one or more” bombs, but declined to speculate on who was behind the attack. They later sealed off the nearby offices of broadcaster TV 2 after discovering a suspicious package.

“So far, police cannot say anything about the scope of the damage, aside from that there’s been one or several explosions,” a police statement read.

An AP reporter who was in the office of Norwegian news agency NTB said the building shook from the blast and all employees evacuated as the alarm went off. Down in the street, he saw one person with a bleeding leg being led away from the area.

Public broadcaster NRK showed video of a blackened car lying on its side amid the debris.

Witness Ole Tommy Pedersen was standing at a bus stop 100 meters (yards) from the government high-rise at 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT) when the explosion occurred.

“I saw three or four injured people being carried out of the building a few minutes later,” Pedersen told AP.

The blast comes as Norway grapples with a homegrown terror plot linked to al-Qaida. Two suspects are in jail awaiting charges.

Last week, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terror charges against an Iraqi-born cleric for threatening Norwegian politicians with death if he is deported from the Scandinavian country. The indictment centered on statements that Mullah Krekar — the founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam — made to various news media, including American network NBC.

Terrorism has also been a concern in neighboring Denmark since an uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad six years ago. Danish authorities say they have foiled several terror plots linked to the 2005 newspaper cartoons that triggered protests in Muslim countries. Last month, a Danish appeals court on Wednesday sentenced a Somali man to 10 years in prison for breaking into the home of the cartoonist.

___

Associated Press writer Louise Nordstrom contributed to this report.

NEWS UPDATE:

OSLO, Norway (AP) — A spokesman for Norway’s Labor Party says a gunman opened fire at the party’s youth camp outside Oslo, shooting several people following the bomb blast at the government headquarters in the capital.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the attacks were related.

Labor spokesman Per Gunnar Dahl told the AP that a man dressed in a police uniform started shooting at youths assembled for the party’s annual youth camp at Utoya, an island outside Oslo. He said unconfirmed reports that five people were hit, and that “we don’t know how serious.”

He said some 700 people, mostly teenagers between 14-18, were assembled for the camp.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Police say they are sending anti-terror police to a youth camp outside Oslo after reports of a shooting there following the bomb blast at the government headquarters.

The news site VG reported that a man dressed in a police uniform opened fire at the camp. It says several people were injured.

Oslo police chief Anstein Gjengdal said anti-terror units were being sent to the camp at Utoya, outside the Norwegian capital.

He had no other information on that incident, which came hours after a bomb blast outside the government headquarters killed at least two people and injured 15.

Article: Norway police say bomb seems to have caused blast

Article: Norway attack: Likely suspected groups

Article: Factbox: Islamist militant attacks in Europe

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