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UPDATE: A powerful bomb exploded in downtown Oslo shortly before 3:30pm on Friday afternoon, causing extensive damage to government offices and scores of buildings in a wide radius. By early evening at least seven people  were confirmed dead and 15 were hospitalized with injuries, some of them serious. The death toll was expected to rise.

Smoke rises from the massive explosion that hit the heart of Norway's government complex in downtown Oslo on Friday afternoon. PHOTO: Views and News

Police said more bodies were discovered inside the building housing the Ministry of Health but numbers couldn’t be confirmed. They worried that more victims would be found as police investigators and technicians searched through the rubble.

Meanwhile, a shooting attack was underway about an hour outside of Oslo, at the annual summer camp for the youth organization of the Norwegian Labour Party, which currently leads Norway’s left-center government coalition. The camp, which opened Wednesday for a five-day run, is held on an island in the Tyri Fjord, and police said there was reason to believe the bombing in downtown Oslo and the shootings on the island known as Utøya were related. Around 10 persons were said to have been shot by 7pm and the drama was still going on.

Friday’s blast in downtown Oslo was so powerful that it spread debris over a large area, from the waterfront in front of City Hall, ironically where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year, east to the Grønland district. A large  cloud of yellow smoke rose from the area seconds after the blast, which shook downtown buildings, and caused widespread panic in the streets. A shockwave made buildings sway and crushed windows all over Oslo.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) could report extensive damage to the buildings housing the Finance Ministry, the Oil & Energy Ministry, the Business and Trade Ministry and the high-rise atop of which is the Office of the Prime Minister. The burned-out wreckage of a car lay buried by large chunks of concrete, prompting speculation that the explosion came from a car parked in a central plaza encircled by the ministries.

The offices of VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, was also severely damaged and evacuated. It sits just across the street from the government complex on the street known as Akers Gata.

Shortly after 4pm, more smoke could be seen and a cloud smelling of explosive gas was hanging over the city. Curtains could be seen flying from broken windows in the main government highrise. Fearing more explosions, police were busy cordoning off a large part of downtown.

Buses helped carry injured, bleeding people out of the area. At Ullevål sykehus, Oslo’s main hospital, entire departments were being evacuated to clear space for victims of the blast.

Norwegian news bureau NTB reported that prime minister Jens Stoltenberg was safe in an undisclosed location and he later made a brief statement saying that it remained unclear who was behind the bombing or the shootings on Utøya. Several government ministers were also confirmed safe.

Stoltenberg reportedly had already met with key ministers and prepared for a meeting in the government’s security council later on Friday. Several government ministers were on the way back to Oslo, having interrupted their summer vacations. So had Oslo’s mayor Fabian Stang, declaring that “A terrible tragedy has struck our city.”

We’ll be following the story.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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  • James R. Lewis

    Anyone familiar with Norway knows that no one is working late Friday afternoon, so the bombers must not have been Norwegians.

    • karl helgeson

      Anyone familiar with terrorism knows that bombers do their homework; so if a bomb is set for late Friday afternoon there is a reason. Do not jump to conclusions…

  • Rob

    Although Norway is involved in Afghanistan and are one of the countries bombing Libya so I guess that some kind of terror attack on Norway was in the cards, also Norway is a soft target, people here wouldn’t expect it, so the authourities aren’t looking out for it.

  • Unconditional1

    It is a tribute to Norwegian sensibilities, how calmly and rationally the responders reacted. Every country should take a page from Norway’s book as an example of how to react to such destructive violence. Bravo to you Norway!

  • Igor from Slovenia

    Dear people of Norway and especially citizens of Oslo!
    I am extremelly sad to hear what has happened this aftrenoon. I was even more shocked because I am in your country at the moment.
    I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of victims of this tragic event.
    I also wish that you will find those who have caused this crime and bring them to the justice. Not only those who did it but also all who have supported them.
    I am aware that there always people who don’t agree with some governments decisions but there are milions of the ways how to express it without victims, killing, blood…
    I beleive that this weekend will be vrey different, but try to have Monday as normal as possible. If you will change significantly your way of life than they have achived their goal.
    With deepest condolences to all of you,

    Igor from the friendly country of Slovenia.

  • Mike Heckert

    Horrible. We have visited your wonderful city many times. My wife is Norwegian. Thank you so much for covering the news from Norway for us here in the US.

    • Jose from Melbourne Beach

      Veldig Trist

      • Jose from Melbourne Beach

        Very Sad

  • Horrific !!! There is no haven from extremists anywhere. Needless to say, Norway needs to tighten their borders and ASSUME there are terrorsists in the country and actively search them out. Being very kind, too generous, too lax on security and too willing to accept many refugees may be the culprits. As a born Norwegian, I find this horror an attack on my family! My hopes for speedy recovery for all the injured!

  • Dear Oslo residents and Norwegians. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. May you receive healing and strength during this difficult time. And may the guilty ones who committed this act against peace loving people be caught and be brought to shame and justice.

  • Mason

    As someone of quarter Norwegian descent I have to wonder if I have distant relatives living in Oslo. Prayers and thoughts to you all.

  • Sally in CH

    My deepest condolences to the Norwegian people.

    How is it that a place of real human freedom, so open, with a people and government that are wise, calm, pragmatic and tolerant (and who have taken in and cared for so many from countries where there is no freedom) are attacked by such vile, cowardly sub-humans who will probably proudly announce they have done this for some high reason?
    This must stop.

  • C Solheim

    Our condolences to the Norwegian People and to the families who have suffered such a terrible loss.

    This is a horrible tragedy that should be condemned by all free people in the world.

  • yohannes

    i am really very sad about this explosion in oslo. as a former student in the university of oslo, i had a pleasant time during my stay. i donot believe oslo deserve such a nasty did. my condolecence to the victims,their families and the government of norway.
    yohannes from ethiopia

  • Lothar

    Dear people of Oslo, My wife and me watched shocked the pictures we see in TV. We visit your land four times, everyone there is friendly. We unutterable sad. Our mind is in Norway, in Oslo. We will visit your land next year, too. And maybe Oslo, too.
    All the best, Lothar and Petra

  • Sylwia

    We are with you in these days. Keep all together, be strong! Sylwia

  • Dale

    Western multiculturalism and the support for tolerance presumes that respect for all humanity will trump tribalism. Unfortunately, I have no solution to offer as to balancing nation’s right to protect itself with the desire also to support multiculturalism and diversity. Tribalism has led to genocide and to a seemingly unending stream of these horrible events. What is the answer? How to achieve tolerance without exposing your nation to such attacks…..

  • Eric

    My prayers to the family and friends of the victims.
    Have courage.

  • The shock of knowing that your homeland has been violated is horrific. As a citizen of the US, please accept our heartfelt prayers and terrific sadness for what you’ve suffered. The Norwegians were there with us in solidarity on 9/11. It is heartbreaking to see this type of evil action touch such a beautiful and giving culture. Today, we are all Norwegians. May peace prevail.

  • Matt

    I too am of Norwegian descent. My great grandparents came to America from the Tyrifjorden region and I still have cousins in the area. I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and pray for Norway. We are all with you today.
    Matt (from Chicago)

  • Eve

    50% Norwegian here. I have sent an email to my Norwegian relatives in Oslo saying how sorry I am to learn about these tragic acts. Norway has done so much good for so many countries, so many people, and so many causes. This should not have happened. Thank you for this website which has kept me informed on many occasions. I am regret this is such a sad one.

  • Chinese American

    I feel shocked and sorry for Norway.
    I’m a Chinese American. I always have good feelings about Nordic countries and people: Norway, Sweden, Denmark…

    Be strong at this difficult time.
    We are all together in this.

  • Graham from Australia

    Our sympathy to those who have lost loved ones in this terrible incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with all Norwegians. We have sent e-mails to all our families in Norway and some replies have been received to say they are ok.
    This should not have happened to the peace loving Nation of Norway.

  • Marlys Hansen Buzby

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the wonderful people of Norway. What a horrible, senseless act on such friendly people and a beautiful part of our planet. I am so, so sorry. Stay strong. Support each other. Be courageous. You have Viking strength still in your veins – let that strength keep you going now. Know that your friends in the United States care about you and are praying for you all.

  • Espen

    Thanks a lot for kind words, but please stop with the praying it will only provoke. It was an Christian right wing attacking our government for letting a multicultural, socialism, environment grow especially focusing against the muslim culture naturally.