At least seven people were killed in the blast in Oslo and at least nine were killed on Utoya Island, which is about 20 miles away, police said. Oslo University Hospital reported receiving 11 people seriously wounded by the attack in the capital and eight others wounded in the camp shooting.
The prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, was not in his office at the time of the blast and was not hurt although his office was badly damaged in the Oslo blast. Stoltenberg leads Norway‘s Labour Party, which runs the youth camp, where about 700 people were in attendance on Friday. The vast majority of the Labour Party youth movement attendees were between the ages of 16 and 22, though some were as young as 13 and others as old as their early 30s, he said. They had been planning to attend political training classes and participate in group activities during the day and sleep in tents at night.
“After just a few minutes, he took a handgun and started to shoot people,” Roberg-Larsen told CNN “A panic broke out; people tried to hide; some jumped into the water and tried to swim ashore.” Some took shelter in caves or bushes, others climbed trees. “And he went after them,” the party member said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people are wounded and also a lot of people are dead.”
Police spokesman Are Frykholm told CNN that a man arrested on the island where the youth camp is located appeared to match the description of a person who was seen near the government buildings shortly before the bomb erupted. The man was wearing a police emblem on his blue sweater, though he does not work for police, Frykholm said.
Norway had drawn ire from al Qaeda for publishing the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad six years ago. Last July, Norwegian authorities announced the arrests of three suspects in connection with an investigation into terrorist plots in New York and the United Kingdom. The three were suspected of plotting attacks and having connections to al Qaeda, the prime minister’s office said at the time. The Scandinavian country also plays a part in NATO’s operation in Afghanistan, and now, in Libya.
In recent months, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said, there has been increased “chatter” about Norway, which had been investigating militants suspected of being linked to al Qaeda. Despite all indications, Cruickshand continued to say it was ‘far too early to draw any conclusions’ on whether it was terrorism and, if so, who would have carried it out. Echoing Cruisckshand, an undisclosed U.S. official said it was too soon to tell what caused the explosion or whether it was a terrorist attack. The possibility of terrorism is always a concern because of the ongoing threat from al Qaeda to launch attacks in Europe, the official said.