BREAKING: Gunman Shoots At Least 80 at Youth Camp on Norwegian Island of Utoya: Coordinated Attacks?
10:25 pm EST. A breaking update about the attacks that happened Friday in Norway appears at the end of this post. A 32-year-old Norwegian man, Anders Behring Breivik, was arrested Friday night and is in police custody in the worst attack to occur in Norway since World War II.
A few hours after a huge bomb went off in government buildings — including that of the prime minister which is pictured above in the photo — in central Oslo, a man dressed as a police officer killed at least at least 9 people attending a youth conference for the ruling Labor party on the island of Utoya in the Oslo fjord. Those at the conference were between 15 to 16 years of age; the New York Times says that, according to initial reports, prime minister Jens Stoltenberg had been scheduled to attend a meeting at the camp.
The two attacks seem to be a “coordinated effort,” says the New York Times.
Norwegian media are reporting that seven have been killed and at least 15 injured in the bomb blast in Oslo. Police have locked down a large part of Oslo’s city center; the extent of the devastation caused by the bomb in Oslo can be seen on the news site of Dagbladet. A rescue operation is underway now as there are still people in the bombed-out building, all of whose windows were blown out in the attack, says the BBC. Oistein Mjarum, head of communications for the Norwegian Red Cross whose offices are near the buildings, said the “blast could be heard across Oslo”; the oil ministry and the offices of tabloid newspaper VG were among those hit. As Friday was a state holiday in Norway, government offices were not as busy as they might have been, but there were certainly still many in them when the attack occurred.
Witnesses at the camp on Utoya posted messages on Twitter and Facebook about the gunman, who had entered the camp saying he was making a “routine check” following the bombing in Oslo. The mostly 15- and 16-year-olds made pleas for the police to come and for boats, NRK reports; some swam from the island, which is not close to the mainland. The gunman is in custody and is currently being questioned by police, says the Guardian; police are not yet saying if there might have been more than one shooter.
Norwegian police at first believed whoever set off the bomb is foreign; NRK says that the gunman on Utoya looks Norwegian.
A terrorist group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, has claimed responsibility for the attack, says Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute that studies terrorism in the New York Times:
The message said the attack was a response to Norwegian forces’ presence in Afghanistan and to unspecified insults to the Prophet Muhammad. “We have warned since the Stockholm raid of more operations,” the group said, according to Mr. McCants’ translation, apparently referring to a bombing in Sweden in December 2010. “What you see is only the beginning, and there is more to come.” The claim could not be confirmed.
Norway is a member of the NATO alliance and has a small fighting contingent in Afghanistan. It was one of several countries named by Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, as potential targets for attack. In 2006, Norwegian newspapers reprinted Danish cartoons that angered Muslims by lampooning Muhammad. Norway has also historically been a frequent participant in peacekeeping missions and a host for diplomatic talks, including the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of the Norwegian Parliament.
The New York Times also reports that, earlier this month, Norwegian authorities had filed a terrorism charge against Mullah Krekar, the Iraqi-born founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam; he is “accused of making death threats” against the head of Norway’s Conservative Party, Erna Solberg:
Mr. Krekar co-founded Ansar al-Islam in 2001, but said a year later that he no longer led the group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and United Nations.
Norwegian authorities have previously ordered his expulsion from the country, but the process was suspended amid concerns that he would face the death penalty in his home country.
We will continue to post updates about the attacks in Norway.
UPDATE, 9:15 pm EST: The Guardian reports that 17 have been killed in the Oslo bombing and the attack at the youth camp on Utoya. More people have been injured. According to the police,
“A homegrown terrorist set off an explosion that ripped open government buildings in central Oslo on Friday, he then went to a summer camp dressed as a police officer and gunned down youths as they ran and even swam for their lives, according to police.
The attacks are the worst seen by Norway since World War II.
UPDATE, 10:15 pm EST: The BBC reports that at least 80 died in the shooting at the youth camp on Utoya island. NRK says that a 32-year-old Norwegian man, Anders Behring Breivik, was arrested Friday night and is being interrogated by police. A car containing explosives was found on Utoya and is thought to belong to Breivik. Norway’s TV 2 says that Breivik is from Oslo and that he had a machine gun and a Glock pistol recorded in his name.
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Photo showing smoke issuing from the office of the prime minister after the bombing in Oslo by johsgrd