‘No terror behind UiO bomb scare’

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UPDATED: Norway’s security police claimed Wednesday afternoon that no concrete terror threats were behind a bomb scare at the University of Oslo (UiO) earlier in the day. Drama swirled around UiO’s Blindern campus as police cordoned off a wide area close to the scene of a nighttime shooting and the early morning discovery of a “suspicious object” that prompted them to call in the bomb squad. By noon the emergency was over, but the search for two suspects believed to be behind it all continued.

The portion of the University of Oslo's campus that was hit by a bomb scare Wednesday is in the foreground. The physics building borders on the grassy area. The metro station is located off to the lower left. PHOTO: Flyfoto/UiO/Wikipedia Commons

The portion of the University of Oslo’s campus that was hit by a bomb scare Wednesday is in the foreground. The physics and chemistry buildings lie atop the grassy area in the center of the photo, with Helga Engs Hus just behind them to the left. The metro station with restricted access is located farther to the lower left. This part of the university’ Blindern campus was built in the 1930s. PHOTO: Flyfoto/UiO/Wikipedia Commons

Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets Sikkerhets- tjeneste) reported later in the day that they had no reason to tie the incident at Blindern to any extremists or organized form of terror.

“It’s important that the Oslo Police District and PST clear up who was behind this, though, and what was the motive,” Erik Haugland of PST said at an afternoon press conference.

Police earlier told reporters that they believe the object found early in the morning was “meant to spread fear” and called it a “hoax.” They confirmed that it would be destroyed, and warned of a controlled explosion later in the day.

Police also announced that the airspace over the Blindern campus had been closed. The ban on all flights and drones extended over a radius of two nautical miles from Blindern. Police then finished up their examination of the area around the university buildings and Torgeir Brenden of the Oslo Police District told state broadcaster NRK that “there’s nothing dangerous here now.” Police announced via social media that the police restrictions would be reduced and the area would “return to normal.”

Police denied reports that a second object also feared to be a bomb had been found. Norwegian news media had reported that a second suspicious object was found near the entrance to the Blindern metro (T-bane) station, just up the street from the university’s physics building, where the other suspected bomb was found and a security guard shot during the night.

Police cordoned off the metro entrance after finding an object “that we connect with the incident,” Tor Jøkling of the Oslo Police District told VG.no, the newssite for major newspaper VG. It apparently turned out to be a jacket believed to have been worn by one of two suspects in the shooting incident.

Police cordoned off a wide area around the physics building and the chemistry building on the southwestern edge of the large campus until midday. Access was thus severely restricted for those working in those two buildings along with the astrophysics building and Helga Engs Hus, and some university employees and summer students were sent home. The University of Oslo has a studentbody of more than 30,000 plus staff, but is otherwise quiet this week because of school summer holidays. The fall semester gets underway later this month and most students won’t begin to arrive until next week, said university director Gunn Elin Bjørneboe.

She earlier announced that university employees and students already on campus had been told to stay away. “We have decided to send all employees home,” Bjørneboe told VG. “There aren’t many students here now, but all employees have received a message that they don’t need to show up for work.” University officials later clarified, however, that the police action only affected the area cordoned off and not other university buildings.

Polie continued their investigation into the suspicious object and their hunt for two men who were seen fleeing the scene at around 3am, shooting at the security guard in the process. He was not seriously injured, since he was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but remained in hospital Wednesday afternoon.

VG reported that police had found a jacket worn by one of the two men at the Blindern metro station. One of the men was described by the security guard who was shot as thin with a light complexion and wearing grey shoes. Police continued to ask for help from any possible witnesses to the shooting, or sightings of the men fleeing. Grete Lien Metlid of the Oslo Police District told reporters they face charges of attempted murder when apprehended.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund