Saturday, July 23, 2011

Carnage - Norway reeling after attacks

Norway was in reeling in shock Saturday following horrific attacks in and around Oslo which have left at least 90 people dead and dozens more injured.

The first attack was a bomb explosion in Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Oslo, at around 15:26 local time, outside the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other government buildings. The bombing killed seven people and injured several others. As pictures of the massive devastation was beamed around the world a far deadlier attack came in a hail of bullets at a summer camp on a small island a short distance away.

According to reports, at least one masked gunman disguised as a policeman opened fire at campers at a youth camp organized by the youth organization (AUF) of the Norwegian Labour Party (AP) on the island of Ut√łya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. Initial reports said that 80 had died in the shooting but the death toll soon rose to 92, although rescue workers were still searching the island for more bodies on Saturday. Most of the victims are aged between 14 and 19.

After a firefight, police arrested a 32-year-old Norwegian man Anders Behring Breivik for the shootings. By Saturday afternoon Breivik, who describes himself as a Christian and conservative on a Facebook page attributed to him, was charged with both attacks. It has also emerged that a farm supply firm sold six tonnes of fertiliser to Breivik who is reported to have run a farming company. Speculation has been rife that fertiliser could have been used in the Oslo bomb.

The attacks had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda operation and it was initially speculated they had been carried out by Islamic fundamentalists. But now there is now a sense of disbelief that the attacks were perpetrated by a Norwegian. The motive has yet to be established and a massive security operation and forensic investigation has begun.

Norway's security police reported a mild increase in right-wing extremist activity last year and predicted that such activity would continue to increase throughout this year. Yesterday's attack will worry both authorities and a country which is now in grief.

Condemnation of the attacks as well as sympathy soon flooded in from around the world. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, described the bomb that hit government buildings in Norway's capital as an act of "cowardice" and said he was "deeply shocked by the bomb blasts." The Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that NATO "condemn in the strongest possible terms the heinous acts of violence in Norway. Our solidarity with Norway remains steadfast. NATO countries stand united in the battle against these acts of violence."

President Barack Obama said, "Our hearts go out to the people of Norway" and offered American assistance in the investigation of the attacks. He also added that "It's a reminder that the entire community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring," along with mentioning that events in Oslo were a reminder that the world has a role in stopping acts of terrorism. Dozens of other countries, many victims themselves of terrorist atrocities, have also voiced their sympathy for the attacks

Meanwhile the Norwegian Prime Minister who visited the scene said it was too early to make any conclusions about the attack. But there will be many questions as to what led to the attack and whether social or political conditions helped provide a breeding ground for extremist ideology [Reports: BBC / Sky / CNN / France24 / NRKRT / XinhuaGlobe & Mail / Wikipedia Pictures: Globe & Mail ] 

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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