By BosNewsLife News Center
OSLO, NORWAY (BosNewsLife)– Unprecedented terror attacks shattered the home to the Nobel Peace Price Friday, July 22, with a large bomb devastating Oslo’s main government building, killing at least seven people. About two hours later a gunman fired shots at people attending the ruling Labour Party youth camp on an island near Oslo, causing at least some 10 casualties, officials said.
Norway, where around 88 percent of people are Lutheran Christians and two percent Muslims, was shocked but would not give up its democratic values, the government said. Oslo is one of the world’s most expensive cities and Greater Oslo has a population of 1.4 million, making it the fastest growing city in Europe because of increased immigration.
NATO member Norway has previously been the target of threats, but not bombs, notably over its involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya, analysts said. However political violence is virtually unknown in the country of five million people.
Friday’s the bomb blast rocked Norway’s government headquarters and also set the nearby oil ministry building on fire, witnesses said.
Hundreds of windows in the 17-story government headquarters were shattered, as were others in buildings as far as 400 meters away.
Thick, black smoke billowed from some of the offices, and streets in the normally quiet neighborhood were littered with debris from the explosion. Authorities said at least seven people were killed and numerous others injured.
Hours later, police reported that a gunman disguised as a police officer opened fire on youths attending a camp sponsored by the ruling Labour Party. At least 10 people were killed in the attack, officials said.
Officials said they dispatched anti-terror police to the campsite on Utoeya Island south of Oslo.U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the bombing, saying it was “a reminder that the whole international community has a stake in preventing these types of attacks.”
He extended condolences to the Norwegian people who he said had welcomed him warmly when he picked up the Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of his presidency. Obama also offered any help the American government could provide.
CNA, a research group that studies terrorism, said a terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad) claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Voice of America (VOA) network reported.
The Islamist organization said the attacks were in response to the presence of Norwegian troops in Afghanistan as part of the U.S.-led international fight against the Taliban and Islamic insurgents, as well as insults against the Prophet Mohammed.
The claim has yet to be confirmed by Norwegian authorities.
The headquarters building in downtown Oslo houses the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, but a Norwegian spokesman said he and his staff were not injured.Stoltenberg told a Norwegian television station that the explosion was a “serious situation.” European Union President Herman Van Rompuy condemned it as an act of “cowardice.”Norwegian State Secretary Hans Kristian Amundsen said there were people trapped inside the headquarters building, but he declined to elaborate. (With reporting by VOA News and BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).