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Norway ripped by Oslo bomb, youth camp shootings

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Norway ripped by Oslo bomb, youth camp shootings

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — A bomb ripped open buildings in the heart of

Norway’s government Friday, and a man dressed as a police officer

opened fire at an island youth camp connected to the ruling party.

At least seven people were killed in the blast and a witness said

more than 20 died in the camp shootings, the peaceful nation’s

worst violence since World War II.

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Andre Scheie told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he saw “very many

dead by the shore” of the camp on Utoya island, where the youth

wing of the Labor Party was holding a summer camp for hundreds of

youths. He said some victims were shot in the water after trying

desperately to swim away. “There are about 20 to 25 dead,” he

said.

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Police did not immediately confirm the account, but Acting Police

Chief Sveinung Sponheim said a suspect in the shooting has been

arrested. He said police were still trying to get an overview of

the camp shooting and could not say whether there was more than one

shooter.

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Aerial images broadcast by Norway’s TV2 showed members of a SWAT

team dressed in black arriving at the island in boats and running

up the dock. Behind them, people stripped down to their underwear

swam away from the island toward shore, some using flotation

devices.

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Sponheim said the arrested man also was linked to the bombing in

Oslo, the capital and the city where the Nobel Peace Prize is

awarded.

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A square was covered in twisted metal, shattered glass and

documents expelled from surrounding buildings, which house

government offices and the headquarters of some of Norway’s leading

newspapers. Most of the windows in the 20-floor high-rise where

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his administration work were

shattered.

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Stoltenberg was working at home Friday and was unharmed, according

to senior adviser Oivind Ostang.

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Sponheim wouldn’t give any details about the shooting suspect, who

he said was dressed in a police uniform when he opened fire into a

crowd of youths.

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A spokesman for Stoltenberg’s Labor Party, Per Gunnar Dahl, said he

couldn’t confirm that there were fatalities at Utoya, about 60

miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Oslo. The party’s youth wing

organizes an annual summer camp on the island, and Stoltenberg had

been scheduled to speak there Saturday.

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“There are at least five people who have been seriously wounded and

have been transported to a local hospital,” Dahl said. He said the

shooting “created a panic situation where people started to swim

from the island” to escape.

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Police blocked off roads leading to the lake around Utoya. An AP

reporter was turned away by police about 5-6 kilometers from the

lake, as eight ambulances with sirens blaring entered the

area.

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In Oslo, police said the explosion was caused by “one or more”

bombs, but declined to speculate on who was behind the attack. They

later sealed off the nearby offices of broadcaster TV 2 after

discovering a suspicious package.

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Ian Dutton, who was in a nearby hotel, said the building “shook as

if it had been struck by lightning or an earthquake.” He looked

outside and saw “a wall of debris and smoke.”

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Dutton, who is from New York, said the scene reminded him of Sept.

11 – people “just covered in rubble” walking through “a fog of

debris.”

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“It wasn’t any sort of a panic,” he said, “It was really just

people in disbelief and shock, especially in a such as safe and

open country as Norway, you don’t even think something like that is

possible.”

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Public broadcaster NRK showed video of a blackened car lying on its

side amid the debris. An AP reporter who was in the office of

Norwegian news agency NTB said the building shook from the blast

and all employees were evacuated. Down in the street, he saw one

person with a bleeding leg being led away from the area.

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The explosion occurred at 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT), as Ole Tommy

Pedersen stood at a bus stop 100 meters (yards) away.

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“I saw three or four injured people being carried out of the

building a few minutes later,” Pedersen told AP.

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The United States, European Union, NATO and the U.K., all quickly

condemned the bombing, which Britain’s Foreign Secretary William

Hague called “horrific” and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh

Rasmussen deemed a “heinous act.”

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In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke Fulton

called the violence “despicable.” There has been no confirmation of

any U.S. casualties, she said. The U.S. Embassy in Norway warned

Americans to avoid downtown Oslo.

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The U.S. has offered help to Norwegian authorities but there has

been no specific request for assistance, she said.

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The attacks come as Norway grapples with a homegrown terror plot

linked to al-Qaida. Two suspects are in jail awaiting

charges.

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Last week, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terror charges against an

Iraqi-born cleric for threatening Norwegian politicians with death

if he is deported from the Scandinavian country. The indictment

centered on statements that Mullah Krekar – the founder of the

Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam – made to various news media,

including American network NBC.

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Terrorism has also been a concern in neighboring Denmark since an

uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad six years ago. Danish

authorities say they have foiled several terror plots linked to the

2005 newspaper cartoons that triggered protests in Muslim

countries. Last month, a Danish appeals court on Wednesday

sentenced a Somali man to 10 years in prison for breaking into the

home of the cartoonist.

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Associated Press reporters Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm, Matthew

Lee and Rita Foley in Washington and Bjoern H. Amland in Hoenefoss,

Norway, contributed to this report.

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