The New York Times reports that large explosions rocked several government buildings in the center of Norway’s capital, Oslo, just hours ago. The story is still unfolding, but police have confirmed that the explosion was caused by a bomb, and that the Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, was not in the building at the time. At least two people have died and many more were injured. The rescue operation is still ongoing.
Although Norway is not, at first glance, a logical target for political violence, the country has been grappling with threats of terrorism because of its involvement in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya. Suspicions for the attack are falling on Islamist militants, who have, according to the Independent‘s Jerome Taylor, “long singled out Norway as a legitimate — if low priority — target.”
Last summer, three Muslim immigrants to Norway were arrested as one “node” in a global terror network. It’s worth noting that Norwegian newspapers reprinted the offensive cartoons, widely seen to mock the Prophet Muhammad, that originally ran in a Danish paper. Scandinavian countries, despite their reputation for peacefulness and democratic socialism, also have significant racial tensions as Muslim immigrants seek to assimilate into their homogenous societies.
Oslo’s citizens are still in shock; many report feeling frightened and vulnerable. According to the BBC, Oslo’s downtown is in “total chaos.”
“Of course, I’m scared, because Norway is such a neutral country,” one Norwegian man, who works on a ferry boat, told the New York Times.
We’ll keep you posted as the rescue operation continues, and investigators discover more about the nature of the attack.
Photo from dionhinchcliffe via flickr.