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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Tragedy in Norway: Explosions, shootings injure or take lives of dozens

Inex­plic­a­ble, unex­pect­ed tragedy has struck again, this time in Nor­way:

Nor­way suf­fered dual attacks on Fri­day when pow­er­ful explo­sions shook the gov­ern­ment cen­ter here and, short­ly after, a gun­man stalked youths at an island sum­mer camp for young mem­bers of the gov­ern­ing Labor Par­ty. The police arrest­ed a Nor­we­gian in con­nec­tion with both attacks, which killed at least 87 peo­ple and stunned this ordi­nar­i­ly placid nation.

The explo­sions, from one or more bombs, turned Oslo, a tidy Scan­di­na­vian cap­i­tal, into a scene rem­i­nis­cent of ter­ror­ist attacks in Beirut or Bagh­dad or Okla­homa City, pan­ick­ing peo­ple and blow­ing out win­dows of sev­er­al gov­ern­ment build­ings, includ­ing one hous­ing the office of the Nor­we­gian prime min­is­ter, Jens Stoltenberg, who was unharmed.

Details are still com­ing togeth­er, but this def­i­nite­ly sounds like an act of ter­ror­ism. Media out­lets in Nor­way are report­ing that the alleged per­pe­tra­tor of the shoot­ing, thir­ty-two year old Anders Behring Breivik, had links with right wing extrem­ist groups (sur­prise, sur­prise). His res­i­dence has already been searched by police.

At this time, author­i­ties are not sure who was respon­si­ble for det­o­nat­ing the bombs. As men­tioned, police have Breivik in cus­tody.

As the bombs in Oslo were going off, he was appar­ent­ly mak­ing his way to a Labour Par­ty sum­mer camp on Utøya, a pri­vate­ly owned island not far from the cap­i­tal, delib­er­ate­ly intend­ing to kill as many peo­ple as he could.

He report­ed­ly lured many of his vic­tims into shoot­ing range by pos­ing as a police­man and then open­ing fire on them when they got close.

What kind of human being does such a despi­ca­ble, evil thing?

At the White House, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma offered his con­do­lences to the peo­ple of Nor­way in a joint appear­ance with New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter John Key.

“I remem­ber fond­ly my vis­it to Oslo and how warm­ly the peo­ple of Nor­way treat­ed me,” the Pres­i­dent said. “And so our hearts go out to them, and we’ll pro­vide any sup­port we can to them as they inves­ti­gate these occur­rences.”

“I echo your sym­pa­thies and con­cern for that sit­u­a­tion in Nor­way,” Prime Min­is­ter John Key added moments lat­er when it was his turn to speak. “If it is an act of glob­al ter­ror­ism, I think what it shows is no coun­try, large or small, is immune from that risk. And that’s why New Zealand plays its part in Afghanistan as we try and join oth­ers like the Unit­ed States in mak­ing the world a safer place.”

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