‘Catastrophic’ twin attacks kill 87 in Norway (Second Lead)

July 23rd, 2011 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Oslo, July 23 (IANS) At least 87 people were killed Friday in “catastrophic” twin attacks in Norway - a massive bomb explosion in the capital here and a shooting at a governing Labour Party youth camp, police said. This is the first time such an apparent terrorist incident has happened in this Scandinavian nation of five million people, one of the least densely populated countries in Europe.

A 32-year-old ethnic Norwegian has been arrested for opening fire at the youth camp. He is also believed to have been behind the bombing here, police said.

“There has never been a similar situation like this in Norway,” the NRK TV channel quoted police chief Oystein Maeland as saying during a news conference. “It’s a black day for Norway. This is an event of a catastrophic scope.”

At least 80 people died in the shooting at the youth summer camp on the Utoeya island, Maeland said.

Xinhua news agency said a gunman wearing police uniform and with police identification landed on the small island, about 40 km west of Oslo, shooting people at the camp two hours after the deadly bomb explosion rocked the government building quarters in the Norwegian capital.

The gunman in his 30s was described to be carrying a pistol and a rifle with telescopic sight. He started shooting a few minutes after he landed on Utoeya in the Buskerud county, Xinhua said.

Eyewitnesses said the man fired several shots into participants of an annual event of the Workers’ Youth League. Some terrified young people jumped into water for safety.

“We have no adequate record of the number of injured now. Many of those seriously injured are under treatment,” the police chief said.

The death toll in the bomb attack at the government headquarter is reported to be seven. The mayor’s office told CNN about 90 people had been injured in the attack.

Police said early Saturday that the deadly blast that shook the Oslo city centre on Friday was caused by a car bomb.

The arrested man, an Oslo resident, is believed to belong to right-extremist groups in eastern Norway.

Stratfor, the global intelligence think tank, said in an early analysis: “The significance of the events in Norway for the rest of Europe will depend largely on who is responsible, and the identity of the culprits is still unclear.

“A transnational militant plot against a European country in the contemporary context could also be significant for European defence policy. When the 2004 Madrid attack and 2005 London attack happened, many in Europe argued that the attacks were a result of European governments’ support for US military operations in the Middle East. This is no longer really the case for Europe, although European forces are still in Afghanistan.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called on Norwegians to remain calm and not to let panic spread.

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