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July 22, 2011 12:35 pm

Blast Hits Norwegian Government Headquarters

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Scene of the blast. Photo: screenshot.

Terror has come to Norway.

Friday, windows at the government headquarters in Oslo were shattered, fires burned, and smoke billowed from the first floor of the 17 story building housing the offices of the Prime Minister and its administrative offices. Several ministries have offices in nearby buildings. Government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste says Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe. Two people are confirmed killed in the blast, and approximately twenty others injured.

Responsibility for the explosion has not yet been claimed. Oistein Mjarum, head of communications for the Norwegian Red Cross, said his offices were close to the site of the explosion. He categorized the explosion as “massive” and said it “could be heard over the capital Oslo.” Mr. Mjarum said people were in shock in Oslo and across Norway. He told the BBC “We have never had a terrorist attack like this in Norway – if that’s what it is – but of course this has been a great fear for all Norwegians when they have seen what has been happening around the world.”

Nearby offices have been evacuated. Bureaus of some of Norway’s leading newspapers and news agency NTB were also damaged. Shattered glass from windows blown out throughout the area littered the streets. People remain trapped in some buildings, according to a Norwegian government official.

Although there was no immediate word on the cause of the blast, the explosion comes very soon after the filing of terror charges against Mullah Krekar – the founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam. The Iraqi-born cleric had threatened Norwegian politicians with death were he to be deported. “The indictment centred on statements made to various media, including American network NBC,” according to the Associated Press. Norway has experienced “a series of homegrown terror plots linked to al-Qaeda.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion. Roads have been closed. Security officials have evacuated people from the City Centre area, fearing another blast. A spokes person at the Norwegian Consulate referred calls to the Foreign Ministry in Oslo. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the Algemeiner that “an official statement has not yet been issued, but should be available in several hours.” Individual statements are expected from each of the affected ministries.

Oslo police Chief Anstein Gjengdal told the Associated Press “It is possible that a vehicle has been used in this incident, but we can’t confirm this.” Police told reporters the explosion was caused by “one or more” bombs. The offices of Norwegian broadcaster TV2   have been sealed by police in order to investigate a suspicious package.

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