Police hushed up concert bomb scare

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Just as thousands of mostly young Norwegians were streaming into a huge annual outdoor concert in Oslo last month, police were called to the scene after a suspicious object was found just outside the concert area on City Hall Plaza. They in turn called in their bomb squad, after also finding a pile of DVDs containing right-wing propaganda about Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik and the Holocaust.

Around 30,000 filled Oslo’s City Hall Plaza for last month’s annual VG Lista outdoor concert, unaware that a potential bomb drama was unfolding nearby. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday afternoon about how drama quietly unfolded on the otherwise festive Friday evening of June 22. Unbeknownst to either those attending the huge VG Lista concert, which attracted an estimated 30,000 music fans, or several thousand more watching the World Cup on outdoor screens in the park adjacent to the historic Akershus Fortress and Castle, the bomb squad carefully examined and ultimately dismantled what turned out to be what they called “a homemade technical device.”

Johan Fredriksen, chief inspector for the Oslo Police District, confirmed to NRK that police quickly set up what he called “a security zone” around where the device was found. “It had several wires and needed a closer check by police to clarify whether it contained explosives,” Fredriksen told NRK. “We don’t take any chances when we get reports of such objects, especially when they’re linked to large arrangements.”

He claimed that it didn’t take long for the police bomb squad to determine that it was not a bonb, instead may have been part of a so-called stun gun, and presented no danger. “It could have been placed there (in Kronprinsesse Märthas Plass alongside City Hall) to spread fear or to prompt police to evacuate the area,” Fredriksen said, “or someone could have simply left it there before going through security at the concert gates, to avoid being denied entry.”

Police were also unsure whether the right-wing extremist material was tied to the device or left by others. Fredriksen said similar material occasionally has been left at bus stops and other public places in and around Oslo since 2016.

He defended the police officials’ decision against informing the public or the media about the suspicious object. “There was no reason to cancel the event or create any alarm,” Fredriksen told NRK. “We make our evaluations based on the situation.” He said police receive  “many reports of suspicious objects,” and in this case, they could quickly establish it was not dangerous. “We didn’t want to spread fear among the many thousands who turned out for the concert,” he said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund