OSLO – An explosion caused by at least one bomb badly damaged government buildings in the Norwegian capital on Friday, while a man wearing a police uniform opened fire on an island where there was a youth camp organized by the ruling party, attacks that killed more than 80 dead, authorities said.
These are the worst violence to hit Norway since the Second World War, and the worst attacks to hit the Western Europe since the London in 2005, which had killed 52 people.
Early Saturday morning, the Norwegian police had brought the number of victims shot to 80. Seven other people were killed in the bombing.
The Oslo police initially announced that nine or 10 people were killed on the island of Utoya, 35 kilometers northwest of Oslo, where the youth wing of the Labour Party had organized a summer camp for hundreds of young people.
The police chief, Sveinung Sponheim, said a 32-year-old suspect was arrested after the shooting, and that this man had been seen in Oslo before the explosion.
The Minister of Justice Knut Storberget said that the suspect was a Norwegian citizen.
A police official speaking on condition of anonymity said the suspect did not appear to be linked to an Islamist organization and acted alone. The official said the attack is more like that of Oklahoma City as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Mr. Sponhein said the police was busy always secure the camp and was unable, for now, to confirm that there was only one shooter.
Norway police official said there was at least one explosive device still active in the camp. Explosives experts are trying to defuse the bomb.
Aerial images released by Norwegian TV2 channel showed members of the special task force dressed in black arrived on the island on boats and run on the platform. Near them, you could see people in their underwear into the water to escape the island.
Police cordoned off all roads leading to the lake surrounding the island of Utoya. An Associated Press reporter at the scene was forced by police to turn back at about 5 km from the lake, and eight ambulances entering the area, sirens blaring.
A 15 year old girl named Elise, who attended the camp, said she heard shots but thought she saw a policeman and thought she was safe. The man then began to shoot people who were in front of him.
“I saw many dead people,” said the girl. “He first shot the people who were on the island. After he began shooting people in the water. ”
She claimed to have hidden behind a large rock on which the shooter was. “I could hear her breathing,” she said.
In Oslo, a city best known for the Nobel Prize for Peace is awarded annually, the explosion devastated a street corner, which piled up the twisted metal, broken glass, and thousands of documents from surrounding buildings.
Most of the windows of the 20-story building where the offices of Prime Minister and the members of his government were shattered. The other damaged buildings are home to government offices and the headquarters of the major Norwegian newspapers.
The Prime Minister was working with him Friday and he was not injured, according to one of his advisers, Oivind Ostang.
The Prime Minister has condemned a “cowardly attack against innocent civilians youth.”
“I have a message for those who attacked us,” said Stoltenberg. “This is a message from all of Norway: you will not destroy our democracy and our commitment to a better world.”
The explosion occurred at 15 h 30 local time (9: 30 pm Montreal time). The police said the explosion was caused by “one or more” bombs.
After the explosion, the authorities sealed off access to the offices of television TV2 after the discovery of a suspicious package.
Ian Dutton, a witness who was in a hotel near the site of the explosion, said the building had trembled as if he had been struck by lightning or an earthquake. He looked outside and saw “a wall of debris and smoke.”
Mr. Dutton, a native of New York, said the scene reminded him of the attacks of September 11, 2001: people “covered with rubble” walked “in a cloud of debris.”
“There was no real panic,” he said. “There were mostly people incredulous and shocked. In a country as safe and open as Norway, we do not think such a thing could happen. ”
NKR state television aired a video showing a blackened car turned on its side amid the debris. An Associated Press reporter who was in the offices of the Norwegian news agency NTB said the building had trembled under the force of the explosion and that all employees were evacuated. In the street, he saw a person whose leg was bleeding be moved to the area.
The international community has condemned the violence quickly.
The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has described as “atrocious,” while the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, condemned a “heinous act”.
President Barack Obama said the attack reminded how the international community’s interest to prevent such terrorist acts to occur. He said to remember the warm welcome that the Norwegians have booked him when he went to Oslo to receive the 2009 Nobel Prize for peace.
The Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper condemned the “barbaric acts of violence and senseless” and offered his condolences to the Norwegians on behalf of all Canadians.