Two Explosions Rocked Oslo Government Building
July 22, 2011
At least one of two explosions that rocked a Norwegian government building in Oslo today was result of a massive vehicle bomb, according to U.S. government sources on the scene.
The tangled wreckage of a vehicle was seen near the Norwegian government building that was targeted in the blast, officials said. It was not clear if the car was a bomb vehicle or near the site of a blast. At least one explosion was the result of a massive vehicle bomb, U.S. government sources said.
Norwegian news reported at least two people were killed and several more were injured.
Hours after the blasts, several media outlets reported shots were fired at a youth meeting in a town outside of Oslo which Norway’s prime minister was scheduled to attend Saturday.
Norway’s prime minister, Jen Stoltenberg, who has an office in a building hit by the blast, was uninjured and said in a statement the blast was “severe” and all available resources were being put into the rescue effort.
“It felt very big. It shook the whole building,” Norwegian government official Anders Lande said of one explosion. “There was lots of glass. As I was evacuated, I saw several people injured.”
Search for Suspects
No group has publicly taken responsibility for the blast and a U.S. counter-terrorism official told ABC News there is no indication yet of motive or suspects. Intelligence sources are examining both Ansar al-Islam and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for possible links to the attack.
Earlier this month, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terrorism charges against an Iraqi-born cleric who had allegedly threatened the lives of Norwegian politicians. Mullah Krekar, the founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, said in a news conference in 2010 that if he was deported from Norway he would be killed and, therefore, Norwegian politicians deserved the same fate, according to an AP report. The Norwegian government had considered deporting Krekar because he was seen as a national security threat.
Prior to the Iraq War, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said Ansar al-Islam was the “sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network.”
In July 2010, Norway arrested two alleged al Qaeda operatives who were allegedly plotting attacks similar to the attack planned by Najibullah Zazi on the New York City subway system. A third Norwegian resident was arrested in Germany in connection with the same alleged plot.
In 2006, Norwegian authorities held three men linked to an alleged plot to attack the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Oslo. During the same year, two Norwegian publications reprinted a cartoon lampooning the prophet Mohammed that had original appeared in a Danish newspaper, leading to threats against Norway.