Youth meeting of ruling Labour Party targeted; Prime Minister was scheduled to address the gathering
Police have arrested a man disguised as a police officer who shot and killed at least four people at a youth meeting of the ruling Labour Party near Oslo on Friday, according media reports.
“From what I saw, at least four people have been shot and killed,” Adrian Pracon, a participant at the event told the Varden newspaper.
The gunman turned up at the event saying he wanted to ensure security there following the deadly explosion in the Oslo city centre earlier in the day, TV2 television reported, citing witnesses.
NRK reported that police arrested the gunmen, but police neither confirmed the arrest nor released any details on casualties.
Police did say Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg had been scheduled to address the gathering, a summer camp on Utoya, an island just outside Oslo.
He was due to give a speech on Saturday morning to the 560 people attending the gathering.
The shootings came shortly after a deadly blast ripped through government buildings in Oslo, killing seven people and wounding 15 according to media reports.
Mr. Stoltenberg's office is on the 16th floor of the most imposing government building in Oslo, a rectangular block that towers over the other buildings in the area. The Justice Ministry also has its offices in the building.
Helge Skinnes, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's office, was in the building at the time of the explosions and was still at the site when reached by telephone on Friday afternoon. “We have a crisis situation,” Mr. Skinnes said, declining to comment further.
Norwegian authorities said they believed a number of tourists were in the central district and around the main government buildings at the time of the explosion, but that it was not otherwise crowded.
“Luckily it's very empty,” said Stale Sandberg, who works in the directorate for family, youth and children affairs, a few blocks down the street from the Prime Minister's office.
At the site of the explosion, police evacuated and cordoned off the area as tension mixed with shaken fascination. People milled round the area, some snapping photos of the destruction. Store windows were blown out for several blocks around.
While Norway has seen little political violence in recent years, the country is a member of NATO alliance and has a small fighting contingent in Afghanistan.
It was one of several countries cited by Ayman al-Zawahri, the al-Qaeda leader, as potential targets for attack. In 2006, Norwegian newspapers reprinted Danish cartoons that angered Muslims by lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.
Norway has also historically been a frequent participant in peacekeeping missions and a host for diplomatic talks, including the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of the Norwegian Parliament. — AFP, New York Times News Service