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Friday, 22 July 2011

Norway’s capital shaken by bomb blast

BERLIN — A massive explosion rocked the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on Friday afternoon, blowing out the windows of a large government office building and damaging several others, including one that holds the prime minister’s office. Local news reports said police confirmed at least two deaths.
Police said that a bomb caused the explosion, according to Norwegian news agency NTB. The target appeared to have been the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, according to a police officer on the scene who spoke to the Dagbladet newspaper.

A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister's office, injuring several people. (July 22)
A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters in Oslo which includes the prime minister's office, injuring several people. (July 22)
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“Central Oslo looks more like a battlefield,” said a spokesman for the police directorate, Runar Kvernen. “The headquarters of the Norwegian government is almost destroyed. It damaged a lot of a of buildings.”
Smoke could be seen billowing from a high-rise government building on video images of central Oslo, and debris littered the streets. There were several injured people covered in blood. Reporters on the scene said that the area had not been crowded on a Friday afternoon when many people were on vacation.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was safe and had not been in the area at the time of the explosion, which occurred about 3:30 p.m., a spokesman told the Associated Press.
Kvernen, the police spokesman, also said that “another very dramatic situation is developing” north of Oslo at a youth summer political conference, where shots had been reported fired. He said that police were still gathering details but could not rule out that the incidents were connected.
Oslo University Hospital had received seven injured people by late afternoon, a spokesman told Reuters. It was not immediately clear what kind of bomb had exploded or where it had been, but NRK television broadcast images of a blackened, damaged vehicle turned on its side near the site of the blast.
Other Scandinavian countries have been the targets of terrorism, most recently Sweden in December, when two explosions hit Stockholm; in one of the blasts, a suspected terrorist bomber killed himself and injured two other people in a central area of the city. The suspect had made recordings condemning Sweden’s involvement in Afghanistan.
Norway has also contributed significantly to the NATO-led effort to protect civilians in Libya, sending several F-16 jets that had been carrying out 10 percent of the strikes on the country since March, according to the Norwegian Air Force. The aircraft are scheduled to return home at the end of the month.
Earlier this month, Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi threatened Europe with suicide bombings as revenge for the NATO campaign.
Norway had also filed charges last week against an Iraqi-born cleric, Mullah Krekar, a founder of the Kurdish militant group Ansar al-Islam, for threatening Norwegian officials with death if he was deported from the country.

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