Updated 11.40am, 23 July
POLICE IN OSLO now say that seven people have died following yesterday afternoon’s explosion in the centre of the city, while the death toll on the island of Utoya has risen to 84, with police in Norway saying the number of dead in both Oslo and Utoya could still rise.
Updated 8.50pm 22 July
The seven in Oslo were confirmed dead after the blast near government buildings in the Norwegian city, while eleven are badly wounded in Oslo’s main hospital. The BBC reports that the wounded range in age from elderly people to younger people.
Meanwhile several people are feared dead at a Labour Party summer camp in Utoya, an island in the Tyrifjord. Police have said that armed officers have been sent to the location and there are reports of several deaths and injuries at the camp. Reuters reports that Norway police fear there may be explosives at Utoya. Some young people who were on the island swam to shore in a bid to escape the gunman.
Police now say that they believe there is a connection between the Oslo bombing and the shootings at Utoya.
The New York Times (subscription may be required) reports that the group Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, have claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement from the group indicated that the attack was a response to Norwegian forces in Afghanistan and to insults to the Prophet Muhammad. The New York Times said that the claim had not been confirmed.
In Oslo Assistant Chief Constable Egil Vrekke told the BBC that it has not yet been confirmed if there was a single explosion or several simultaneous explosions.
He also said that he’s not aware of any warning that was given prior to the blast. Vrekke said that the rescue operation is now the priority and that police are also checking to make sure there are no other possible bombs in the area.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, condemned today’s events saying:
I am deeply shocked by the bomb blasts this afternoon in Oslo which have killed a number of innocent people and left many others injured. I want to convey my most sincere condolences to the families of the victims. I condemn in the strongest terms these acts of cowardice for which there is no justification.
It was reported that all cars arriving and departing from Oslo airport were being searched, while there may have been some arrests at the airport. Norwegian broadcaster TV2 earlier reported that three people have been detained.
State broadcaster NRK (translation required) said that it was likely that more than two had died in Oslo. Verdens Gang (translation required) meanwhile reported that police said that several people have died and that people have been asked to stay away from the area and limit mobile phone use. The paper said there was ‘complete chaos’ in Oslo.
Reports of a second explosion in central Oslo this afternoon appear to have been false. NRK said that news of a second blast at Parliament Street in the city was untrue, and was prompted by fallout from an earlier explosion near government buildings. There are also unconfirmed reports that police are searching for more bombs.
CNN had reported that a second blast had been heard. However tweeters in Olso also moved to dismiss the speculation.
The government buildings house the Prime Minister’s offices, while there are unconfirmed reports that the initial explosion may have originated in or near the offices of the newspaper Verdens Gang.
Reuters reported that several people – at least eight – hadbeen injured in the explosion. NRK journalist Ingunn Anderson, who was in the area said that the “whole building shook…we thought it was an earthquake”. It’s also reported that the area is in chaos, with people bleeding on the street.
Aftenposten reported (translation required) that windows have been blown out in the government quarter in a “huge explosion”. Police were ordering people out of the area and the paper reported that there were rumours that there may be more “bombs”.
One tweeter reports that local media are stating that several car bombs went off, although the source of the explosion has yet to be confirmed. Reuters also reports that the tangled wreckage of a car can be seen outside one building.
According to Associated Press the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe and well.
A spokesperson from the Irish Embassy in Oslo said that the explosion happened about half a kilometre away from the embassy building. The spokesman said:
We’re some distance away but the explosion was felt in the building. There appears to be no major panic among people at the moment. Looking down on the street people are walking calmly away from the site.
The spokesperson told The Journal.ie that the embassy was liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs to set up arrangements whereby Irish people and their families can seek information.
A spokesperson from the Deparment of Foreign Affairs meanwhile has said that there are 300 Irish people currently living in Oslo. The spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that there are no reports of any Irish injuries.
The wreckage of a car lies outside government buildings in the centre of Oslo. Pic: AP Photo/Fartein Rudjord
A victim is treated outside government buildings in the centre of Oslo. Pic: AP Photo/Fartein Rudjord
- Additional reporting by Jennifer Wade