Friday, July 22, 2011

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Bomb blast rocks Oslo government buildings

  • Friday, July 22, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • A powerful bomb blast rocked government and media buildings in Norway’s capital Oslo yesterday, causing “deaths and injuries” and dealing heavy damage, police said.

    Police said a bomb was behind the explosion and Norwegian media reported that at least two people died.

    “A powerful explosion has taken place in the government quarter,” Norwegian police said in a statement.

    “Police can confirm there were deaths and injuries following the explosion in the government quarter this afternoon,” police added later.

    Images on Norwegian television showed the prime minister’s office and other buildings heavily damaged, sidewalks covered in broken glass and smoke rising from the area.

    Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was reported to have not been in his office at the time of the blast. Police had sealed off the area, which houses the offices of the prime minister, the finance ministry and the country’s biggest tabloid newspaper Verdens Gang (VG). Two Cabinet ministers told AFP that Stoltenberg had been scheduled to be visiting areas far outside Oslo on Friday.

    News agency NTB also reported that Stoltenberg was “safe”.

    Witnesses said the damage was extensive and that injured victims could be seen.

    “I see that some windows of the VG building and the government headquarters have been broken. Some people covered with blood are lying in the street,” a journalist with public radio NRK said from the scene.

    “There is glass everywhere. It is total chaos. The windows of all the surrounding buildings have been blown out,” said NRK journalist Ingunn Andersen.

    The radio reported that the explosion seemed to happen near the finance ministry, which is near the Norwegian prime minister’s office and the VG editorial offices.

    Photos posted on the NRK website also showed shattered glass in front of the devastated facade of the VG building, soldiers closing off the area and people surrounding someone apparently injured in the blast.

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