The day that changed Norway

The day that changed Norway

Friday July 22nd is a day that will be remembered for ever in Norway. I had been to work all day and was looking forward to start a weeklong vacation, first with my sister and her family and then with my parents. At the end of the working day me and my co-workers had been gathered talking about the past week and rest of the summer. As everybody prepared to leave we heard a loud bang and the entire building where shaking. We could also feel the air pressure. As I looked out the window I saw lots of people at the streets looking at a certain place and gathering. A massive cloud of smoke was rising from a neighbor building and there was glass from smattered windows all over. I gathered my stuff and hit the streets as I realized something horrible had happened.

People gathering in the streets

At the streets it was mayhem. The streets where packed with stressed up people, the air was packed with dense smoke and the streets where covered with debris and shattered glass. It didn’t take long before I realized what just happened. A huge bomb (probably a car-bomb) had just exploded outside the government administration buildings and there where huge damage on the constructions. It didn’t take long before the police, fire engines and a huge number of ambulances arrived. The police took quickly control over the situation and the entire area surrounding the government administration buildings where closed. There where rumors that a bomb had exploded close to Stortinget (the Norwegian parlament) as well bur this turned out to be untrue. The police and paramedics on the site where professional and handled this in a good way.

This is a video taken just after the bomb exploded and shows the damage to the buildings.

I started calling everyone I know who are working in the damaged and they where on vacation. I got lots of calls and SMS from friends and family as well. Everyone on the streets where either taking pictures of what just happened or where talking on the phone. There where debris and broken glass everywhere, even hundreds of meters from the blast site.

At this point I thought someone connected to Afghanistan or Libya where causing this and I talked to people who thought the same. After a couple of hours the police extended the closed area because they feared other buildings would be bombed. People where recommended to leave the city center as fast as they could, avoid crowds and don’t use cellphones. Shattered glass where still falling from buildings and people had to watch their step to avoid getting hit by a flying window.

So far 7 people have been found dead in the goverment administration buildings and several others are badly hurt. We thought this was it but things turned out to be alot worse.

The massacre at Utøya
Each summer AUF (the youth organization to the Norwegian labour party) have a rally at an island called Utøya. There are gathered somewhere between 500 and 1000 young politicians discussing politics. Most of the members of the Norwegian government from the labour party have been attending this rally several times.

Two hours after the bombings in Oslo a guy dressed as a police officer used a boat to get to Utøya. He gathered lots of youths around him and started suddenly to shoot them. The other youths tried to hide but he walked about the island and shot them dead. There have been report that he shot them in the head afterwards to be sure they where dead for sure. 69 people where killed in this massacre. Read more about the massacre at Utøya at Wikipedia.

The terrorist
The police soon discovered that it’s the same person who where behind the bomb and the shooting at Utøya. He where arrested and brought to custody. He claimed he wantet to kill gro Harlem brundtland who is a former Prime Minister in Norway. The bomber has been charged with terrorism for both attacks and he have stated that his actions were “atrocious but necessary”. At his initial arraignment on 25 July, Breivik was remanded into custody for eight weeks, the first half to be in solitary confinement. He wanted to have an open hearing, and attend it wearing a uniform of his own design, but both requests were denied by the judge. The bombers militantly far-right ideology is outlined in an online 1,518-page manifesto 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence. His ultranationalist manifesto lays out his xenophobic worldview, which contains an array of political concepts; including support for varying degrees of cultural conservatism, right-wing populism, anti-Islamization, "far-right Zionism", and Serbian paramilitarism; while arguing for the annihilation of Islam, "Eurabia", "cultural Marxism", and multiculturalism, to preserve a Christian Europe. He further urged Europeans to restore the historic crusades against Islam as in the middle ages.

I am not sure which effect these events will have on Norway but it will change Norway as a nation and Norwegians as a people. The King, the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice have all been addressing the people and visiting the surviving youth and their families from Utøya.

You can read more about the attacks in this article on Wikipedia.

The day that changed Norway