Oslo explosion kills at least 2
A massive explosion rocked downtown Oslo on Friday, killing at least two people, injuring several others and causing widespread damage in Norway’s government center.
The Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reported that police believe the blast was due to a bomb. News agencies said the twisted, charred wreckage of a car could be seen close to the blast site.
The explosion occurred near Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office, but Norwegian media said Stoltenberg was safe.
Outside of Oslo, a gunman dressed in a police uniform opened fire at a youth camp run by Norway’s Labor Party. It wasn’t immediately clear if the two attacks were related.
Party officials cited reports that five people were hit by gunfire. News reports said the gunman was arrested.
Video footage from the streets of the capital showed shattered glass, documents and other debris on the street as terrified people fled the scene to safety, heading away from Oslo’s normally bustling downtown.
Nearly all the windows of one multistory building appeared to have been blown out. Another building was on fire. A huge plume of smoke rose into the sky.
Residents were stunned by the blast and the possibility that their placid country had become the victim of a large terrorist attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Norway has been singled out as a target by Al Qaeda.
Almost exactly a year ago, three foreign-born Norwegian residents suspected of being affiliated with Al Qaeda were arrested on suspicion of plotting an attack.
Last week, Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi-born cleric who lives in Norway, was charged with terrorism after allegedly threatening politicians with death if Norwegian authorities deport him. Krekar is the founder of the militant Kurdish Islamist group Ansar Al Islam.
In 2003, an audiotape by Ayman Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as leader of Al Qaeda after his death in May, urged militants to attack the U.S., Britain, Australia and Norway.
Many Norwegians were puzzled at the inclusion of their country on the list; explanations centered on Norway’s participation in the war in Afghanistan.
Six years ago, many Muslims around the world and at home were angered when a Norwegian newspaper published cartoons from Denmark that protesters said insulted the prophet Muhammad.
Oslo is also a contributor to the aerial campaign over Libya.