July 25th, 2011

Bombing and Shooting Attacks, Oslo, Norway

Posted at 9:08 AM ET

oslo-smallTwin bombing and shooting attacks in Norway’s capital of Oslo killed at least 93 people and injured around 100 more on July 22, in western Europe’s deadliest attack since the 2004 Madrid bombings. According to reports, a Norwegian national with rightwing views detonated a car bomb in the government district of Oslo before traveling to an island outside of the city and gunning down youths at a summer camp. The bomb in Oslo targeted buildings connected to Norway’s governing Labor Party, and the youth camp on Utoya Island was also run by the party. According to the police, seven people were killed and 30 wounded in the initial bombing of government buildings in central Oslo, while 86 were killed and 66 wounded during the shooting at Utoya Island, some 20 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of the capital. The death toll in central Oslo is expected to rise as police have been unable to access some parts of the damaged buildings. At least four people from the island camp remain missing and divers continue to search the surrounding waters. Anders Behring Breivik, a man with links to far-right groups, has been arrested for the attacks. He has admitted carrying out the attacks and the killings, but has not accepted criminal responsibility for them.

Several buildings were damaged after the car bomb exploded in central Oslo, according to reports. The bomb, which shook the city centere at around 15:30 local time (13:30 UTC), blew out the windows of the prime minister’s building and badly damaged the finance and oil ministry buildings. Witnesses described a scene like a war zone, with people walking dazed through streets littered with rubble. A huge dust cloud rose from the city center as police cordoned off the area and evacuated buildings. Police confirmed that the blast was caused by a car bomb, and said undetonated explosives remain around the buildings. The bomb was reported to be a mixture of fertilizer and fuel, similar to the one that was used in the Oklahoma City terrorist attack of 1995. In that attack, a van packed with explosives destroyed a large federal building, killing 168 people.

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The Oslo attacks, though hitting two targets, were not simultaneous. Following the initial attack, Breivik traveled to Utoya Island as the emergency services dealt with the chaos in central Oslo. On arrival at the island, he claimed to be investigating the bomb attack and began opening fire with an automatic weapon. Witnesses said Breivik, wearing a police uniform, went on a prolonged shooting spree on Utoya Island, where more than 550 people were attending the youth camp. First reports of the shooting emerged at around 16:50 local time. Reports said a police SWAT team was dispatched from Oslo around 50 minutes later, and due to difficulties in getting to the isolated island, arrived at 18:20 local time, some 90 minutes after the gunman first opened fire. The suspect surrendered soon after without putting up a fight.

Norwegian news agency NTB said Breivik legally owned several firearms and belonged to a gun club. He also owned an organic farming company, which he reportedly used to buy six tons of fertilizer. Police believe Breivik acted alone in plotting and carrying out the attacks after losing faith in mainstream parties. Currently, Norwegian police have not recommended raising the country’s terrorism threat level.

Sources: CNN News, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse, BBC News

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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