PST takes over after Oslo bomb scare

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UPDATED: Norway’s police intelligence and anti-terror unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) has taken over an investigation launched late Saturday night following the discovery of a suspicious “object” believed to be a bomb in Oslo’s Grønland district. A large portion of the busy downtown district was cordoned off and subject to evacuation until the mysterious object could be destroyed.

There was a large emergency response after a police patrol had observed a man behaving suspiciously and connected him to a box found nearby. The man was arrested and taken in for questioning while the area was cordoned off and bomb squads called in.

Suspicious object destroyed
Around a half-hour after midnight, a large explosion was heard from within the area. Svein Arild Jørundland, leader of the police response, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the noise came “from the bomb group’s apparatus that had been brought in and tried to destroy the object.” He said it would “take more time before the object can be examined and we can see what effect this has had.”

Police confirmed shortly thereafter that the object had been rendered harmless. Asked whether the object had indeed been a bomb, Jørundland replied “That’s difficult to answer right now, but the blast was bigger than that coming from the apparatus the bomb group uses, so that indicates something has exploded.”

By early Sunday morning, PST confirmed that it was taking over the investigation. PST spokesman Martin Bernsen said it was in its early stages and he wouldn’t specify why PST was immediately getting involved, telling NRK only that “there were various circumstances that made it natural for PST to take over the case.”

Nor would either PST or police release any details about the man arrested, why police had apprehended him and what led them to the box, described as being around 30 square centimeters in size, that set off the bomb scare. NRK reported that he’d been spotted earlier Saturday night. They reported around 10:30pm that they’d cordoned off a large area of Grønland, located just east of downtown and home to many bars and restaurants. Grønland is also known as the heart of Oslo’s immigrant community and contains several mosques.

‘On their toes’
It was initially under evacuation orders from Christian Kroghs Gate just west of the river known as Akerselva and east to Grønlandsleiret and Gronland Torg, but that was later expanded. Among establishments evacuated was Bobs Pub, which was emptied of guests and ordered to close for security reasons. Its proprietor, Eivind Flognfeldt, said the evacuation was carried out calmly and that “everyone is more on their toes now after what happened in Sweden, so I think it’s fine that we act on the safe side.”

Police in Norway have armed themselves and are on high alert following Friday’s terrorist attack in Stockholm. “Police have registered the world we live in and are on the alert all the time,” Jørundland told NRK.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund