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At least 80 dead in shooting, suspect held

July 22, 2011 at 10:28 PM   |   Comments

OSLO, Norway, July 22 (UPI) -- A suspect was being held in two explosions at a Norwegian government complex in Oslo and a shooting at a youth camp that left at least 80 dead, police said.

Police were questioning a 32-year-old suspect in both attacks, the BBC reported.

A witness told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK a man wearing a police uniform fired on campers on Utoya island, The Daily Telegraph reported. Reports of the number of dead in the explosions ranged from seven to 16, with 15 injured.

The explosions in Oslo appeared to be a bomb attack, The New York Times reported.

The Times said a terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad), issued a statement claiming responsibility. The Wall Street Journal said al-Qaida offshoots are in Norway and neighboring Sweden. The groups' leaders considered Osama bin Laden a religious and philosophical guide, but have worked independently.

However, police said a man suspected in the shooting at the camp -- a Norwegian described as tall and blond -- was also linked with the bomb attack, the BBC reported.

Ole Tarp, a reporter for NRK, told the BBC there were reports the suspect was armed with a handgun, an automatic weapon and a shotgun.

"He travelled on the ferry boat from the mainland over to that little inland island posing as a police officer, saying he was there to do research in connection with the bomb blasts," Tarp said. "He asked people to gather round and then he started shooting, so these young people fled into the bushes and woods and some even swam off the island to get to safety."

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, whose Oslo offices were damaged by the explosion, called the attacks "bloody and cowardly." He told reporters at a news conference his nation has been "shaken by evil" but its democracy and ideals will survive, the BBC reported.

"We are a small nation and a proud nation," he said. "No-one will bomb us to silence no-one will shoot us to silence."

Calling Norwegian television, he said all government ministers were believed to be safe but police had advised him not to reveal his current location.

Officials said some of the damaged buildings were on fire and people were still inside.

Shortly after the blasts, a man dressed as a police officer opened fire at a summer camp for young members of the ruling Labor Party on an island in the Oslo fjord, the Times said. Runar Kvernen, a national police spokesman, said most of the young people at the camp were between 15 and 16 years old, the Times said.

The newspaper said there were initial reports the prime minister was scheduled to attend a meeting at the camp.

A suspect was being held Friday in two huge explosions at a Norwegian government complex in Oslo and a shooting at a youth camp that left dozens of casualties.

Reports of the number of dead in the explosions ranged from seven to 16, with 15 injured, and the number of dead at the youth camp ranged from four to 10. The explosions in Oslo appeared to be a bomb attack, The New York Times reported.

The Times said a terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad), issued a statement claiming responsibility. The Wall Street Journal said al-Qaida offshoots are in Norway and neighboring Sweden. The groups' leaders considered Osama bin Laden a religious and philosophical guide, but have worked independently.

However, police said a man suspected in the shooting at the camp -- a Norwegian described as tall and blond -- was also linked with the bomb attack, the BBC reported.

Ole Tarp, a reporter for state broadcaster NRK, told the BBC there were reports the suspect was armed with a handgun, an automatic weapon and a shotgun.

"He travelled on the ferry boat from the mainland over to that little inland island posing as a police officer, saying he was there to do research in connection with the bomb blasts," Tarp said. "He asked people to gather round and then he started shooting, so these young people fled into the bushes and woods and some even swam off the island to get to safety."

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, whose Oslo offices were damaged by the explosion, called the attacks "bloody and cowardly." He told reporters at a news conference his nation has been "shaken by evil" but its democracy and ideals will survive, the BBC reported.

"We are a small nation and a proud nation," he said. "No-one will bomb us to silence no-one will shoot us to silence."

Calling Norwegian television, he said all government ministers were believed to be safe but police had advised him not to reveal his current location.

"We can confirm that people are dead and injured," Assistant Chief Constable Egil Vrekke said.

The Times reported seven dead.

Officials said some of the damaged buildings were on fire and people were still inside.

Shortly after the blasts, a man dressed as a police officer opened fire at a summer camp for young members of the ruling Labor Party on an island in the Oslo fjord, the Times said. Runar Kvernen, a national police spokesman, said most of the young people at the camp were between 15 and 16 years old, the Times said.

The newspaper said there were initial reports the prime minister was scheduled to attend a meeting at the camp.

As fear spread through the capital, police moved to lock down a wide area of the city center, where the streets were already nearly deserted. The Journal said police called for people to stay away from the city center and limit usage of mobile phones. Large numbers of police, rescue services and medical staff were at the site for the explosion.

The wreckage of a car could be seen in front of the main government building.

Oistein Mjarum, head of communications for the Norwegian Red Cross, which has offices near the blast site, told the BBC: "There was a massive explosion, which could be heard over the capital Oslo. This is a very busy area on Friday afternoon and there was a lot of people in the streets and many people working in these buildings that are now burning."

The offices of VG, Norway's largest newspaper, also were severely damaged.

Television footage showed a six-story building housing the oil ministry on fire, and windows shattered in a 17-story building across the street and for blocks around.

All roads into downtown Oslo were closed, NRK reported, and police evacuated people from the area in case of another explosion.

The Aftenposten newspaper said police were searching for explosives.

The New York Times, citing Norwegian media, said witnesses heard two explosions in close succession around 3:30 p.m. and a vast cloud of white smoke rose hundreds of feet over the city.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama said: "I wanted to personally extend my condolences to the people of Norway. It's a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring. We have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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