22 Jul 2011

At least seven dead in Oslo bombing, two seriously injured

At least seven people have been killed in a huge explosion next to government buildings in Oslo. Rescuers are searching for more victims trapped inside.

Debris is seen on the street after a powerful explosion rocked central Oslo (Reuters)

The blast, which police have confirmed was a bomb, blew out most of the windows of a 17-storey building which houses Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office. Mr Stoltenberg was unharmed.

Police say the explosives may have been placed in a car.

Map of explosion site in Oslo (Channel 4 News)

The epicentre of the Oslo explosion seemed to be between the Prime Minister’s office and the oil and energy ministry, which were both badly damaged.

A plume of smoke could be seen coming from the building, which is also home to Norway’s largest tabloid newspaper VG and was surrounded by smashed glass and debris.

Police believe there is a connection between the explosion, a shooting on an island near the capital, news agency NTB reported.

The cause of the explosion is currently unknown, however the tangled wreckage of a car was seen outside one building.

Kjersti Vedun, who was leaving the area, told reporters: “It exploded – it must have been a bomb. People ran in panic and ran. I counted at least 10 injured people.”

Political violence rare

While political violence is rare in the Norway, the NATO member has in the past been threatened by leaders of al Qaeda for its involvement in Afghanistan.

The UK foreign office updated its travel advice for British citizens in light of the explosion. There are no travel restrictions in place, however the Foreign Office said there is an underlying threat from terrorism in Norway.

Around 250,000 British tourists visit Norway every year, according to the Norwegian Statistics Bureau.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has issued a statement, which reads: “We condemn all acts of terrorism and will stand shoulder to shoulder with Norway in the face of such atrocities.”

Norway attacks - Twitter reaction
This is the most dramatic day in Norway since WWII
@ketilbstensrud: SMS from Utøya eye-witness: "I'm safe. We've hidden in a tree. One of us is shot twice in the foot."
@OdaRygh: Texts from kids as utøya such as "there is still shooting" "do not call, we are hiding", and "I am safe under a bed..."
@BradFrenette: Utoya gunman captured: "190cm, blonde, light skin, athletic, in police uniform" via TV2.
@WilliamJHague: Horrific attacks in Oslo - we condemn all acts of terrorism and will stand shoulder to shoulder with Norway in the face of such atrocities.
@Louis_Theroux: My thoughts go to Norwegians at this time. #oslo