Breaking: Explosion hits government offices in Oslo; Update: Bomb confirmed, say police; Update: AQ group takes credit?

posted at 10:36 am on July 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

A “huge explosion” has hit Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo.  According to the Associated Press, injuries have been confirmed, but no deaths at the moment, and the Prime Minister seems to be safe:

A loud explosion shattered windows Friday at the government headquarters inOslo which includes the prime minister’s office, injuring several people.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is safe, government spokeswoman Camilla Ryste told The Associated Press.

Witness Ole Tommy Pedersen was standing at a bus stop about 100 meters (yards) from the high-rise at around 3:30 p.m. (1330GMT) when he saw the blast shatter almost all windows of the 20-floor highrise. He said a cloud of smoke is billowing from the bottom floors.

The building also houses offices of leading Norwegian media outlets.  It’s not clear what happened yet, let alone who was targeted and why (or even if, as this could have been an accident), but a blast that blows out windows all through a 20-story building had to be pretty powerful.  If everyone survived it, it would be almost miraculous.

We’ll keep an eye out for updates.  So far, CNN hasn’t covered it, and the wire services haven’t had much more to say than what’s above.

Update: Aftenposten strongly hints that this was a bomb, although in the same report it says that the cause had not yet been determined. They also have this short video of the aftermath:

Whatever it was, it was big. NRK picks up on the Aftenposten report to say that there may be more bombs in the building (Google translated the Norwegian):

Several unexploded bombs

- You can not go through here, because there are still two bombs we do not know where is, police on site to Aftenposten.no reporters.

NRK.no do not know anything more about the circumstances of these bombs.

In Akersgata are many people looking [through the] government quarter. Glass doors are blown away. Police and fire departments are looking for casualties in the area.

Update II: From the AP at the original link, a potential motive:

The blast comes as the Scandinavian country has grappled with a series of homegrown terror plots linked to al-Qaida, and six years after an uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in neighboring Denmark.

Last week, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terror charges against an Iraqi-born cleric for threatening Norwegian politicians with death if he’s deported from the Nordic country.

The indictment centered on statements that Mullah Krekar — the founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam — made to various media,
including American network NBC.

Update II: AP now says one confirmed dead. They also note a “blackened car lying on its side amid the debris,” which could indicate a powerful car-bomb blast.

Update III: Reuters reports that police confirm that the explosion was a bomb, and that there are now two confirmed dead from it.

Update IV: There has now been a shooting at a Norwegian youth camp that wounded five people that the media reports may be linked to the bomb attack. Sounds a little like a Mumbai scenario might be unfolding, and the web site Jihadica says that an al-Qaeda-affiliated website has a claim of responsibility from a group named Helpers of Global Jihad, via Poor Richard’s News.

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