A “suspicious item” found by employees at a recycling firm in Mongstad, not far from Statoil’s large refinery and terminal complex on Norway’s west coast, turned out to be an empty box and not a bomb as feared. Police, meanwhile, said they have identified a suspect who they think is behind a string of other bomb threats nationwide.
Bomb squads from Oslo arrived at the Mongstad site late Tuesday afternoon, after a national alarm was issued and the Norsk Gjenvinning firm evacuated and cordoned off.
Ronny Jarle Lentføhr of the Hordaland Police District said the package found by company employees had been examined and was empty. Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported that the word “bomb” had been written on the box, which was wrapped in paper and tape. Other media outlets had reported earlier that the box also featured Arabic writing.
It turned out to literally be an empty threat, in line with several others made around Norway on Tuesday that are believed to be unrelated. Bomb threats were phoned in, for example, to airport authority Avinor in Bodø, claiming that a bomb had been placed at Bergen’s airport Flesland.
Threats also were received at the University of Tromsø in Northern Norway and at the Bortarting Lagmannsrett, an appeals court in Oslo.
Police determined early on that the bomb threats were unspecified at the individual locations, and no evacuations were carried out. The threats were so extensive, however, that the police directorate sent out what’s called a riksvarsel, literally a national alert to all police districts around the country.
Suspect from Follo
Police believe a man from the Follo district south of Oslo was behind all of them, and that he also was behind a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the Værnes airport that serves Trondheim earlier this fall.
Police said the man, reported to be mentally unstable, was currently abroad, making further investigation or an arrest difficult. Svein Brage Husdal of the Follo Police District told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), however, that they think they know where he is, and have sought assistance from local police in the area.