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Were Norway Attacks Somehow Politically Motivated?

July 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
Two attacks Friday in Norway killed more than a dozen people when an explosion ripped open buildings in Oslo and a gunman opened fire at a youth camp on the island of Utoya. Judy Woodruff discusses the latest developments with Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation's Anders Tvegard and Finn Hagensen of Reuters, reporting from Oslo.

JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on all this, we’re joined from Oslo by Finn Hagensen of Reuters — he’s been covering the story today in the center of the city and on the island where the shooting occurred — and Anders Tvegard of Norwegian Public Broadcasting.

We thank you both.

And I’m going to go to you first, Finn Hagensen, in Oslo.

What is the latest that’s known on the casualties, dead and injured?

FINN HAGENSEN, Reuters: Yes.

What they are telling about what happened out on the island, they have so far said that there are 10 casualties at the island, but they are not ruling out that there can be some more people that are being killed out there.

They have even found some bomb-like items out there. And they are searching, still searching the area. And they are fearing that the death tolls from the island will arise. Here in Oslo, they have so far counted seven deaths. And that is probably not going to rise, yes, further.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And perhaps 100 or more wounded?

FINN HAGENSEN: Oh, yes, a lot of people, some seriously wounded. There are in hospitals now like 10 people severely wounded.

But there is a lot of people that made themselves to the hospitals and were not that, well, hard injured actually. But there have been hundreds. I came to the place just after the bomb went off. And I met a lot of people just running towards me with blood — blood running from their faces and wounds other places on their bodies, in shock.

It was — it was an unbelievable scene, actually. It’s — yes, this is a really sad day in Norway.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finn Hagensen, the police at this point have a suspect in custody, just one?

FINN HAGENSEN: Yes, there is one guy. He was seen in Oslo. The bomb exploded local time 3:30. Two hours later, the same guy, they believe, came up to this island and was taken by boat out to the — to this small island.

The island is actually owned by the Social Democratic youth organization. They are having a traditional youth camp there. Every year, they had — it’s the same. And the prime minister usually visits the island. I was there to cover sort of the political happenings there. And we left the island only two hours before the shooting started.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And are police — what are police saying about the suspect, who he is, what the motive might have been?

FINN HAGENSEN: They have no motive, and they have not released very much information about him. He’s 32 years old. He’s a white Norwegian guy. Police have been asked, is he known by the police from before? But they have said, we don’t comment on that yet.

So, the only thing I know about this guy is what I said, 32 years old, white Norwegian guy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And do the police say they’re still looking for others?


Out at the island, they have counted 10 casualties, and — but they are not ruling out that there will be some more. But it’s getting — it’s dark here in Norway now. It will be in a few hours until the lights come — comes up again. But they are still working out at the island. It’s 40 — 40 minutes from Oslo.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I meant looking for any other suspects.

FINN HAGENSEN: Oh, OK. I’m sorry.

Yes, they are investigating this now. They are not ruling out anything. We have asked the police, of course, is this the only suspect? But they say, we don’t know. This is the only guy that they have caught so far. But they are not ruling out that there may be some more.

But he could be a loner. They haven’t ruled that out either. So everything will be speculations, but, so far, this is the only suspect.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. I will turn now to Anders Tvegard here with me in Washington. You are based here for Norwegian television.

Tell me about this camp. It is a political camp for teenagers. What sort of place is it?

ANDERS TVEGARD, Norwegian Public Broadcasting: Well, it’s an annual camp. Young people, teenagers come together. They are — have a political background. It’s the kind of the youth organization of the Labor Party, which is now in government, which has the prime minister.

They come there, listen to people talk, give them speeches. It’s political known persons coming, joining this camp. They are there for several days, having fun like young people do. And then you have this carnage when somebody comes up, starts killing teenagers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I have to ask you. To see the sort of devastation we saw in Oslo at the government building in that area, and to have so far seven casualties, it’s remarkably small. Is that because it’s a quiet time of year?

ANDERS TVEGARD: Well, it’s holiday in Norway at the moment. A lot of people are off work. And, also, on a Friday evening at 3:00, people tend to go off work early.

So the speculation is that, at first, who did this? Was it somebody who didn’t know about how the Norwegian society works, or was it somebody who wanted to scare us, not causing too many casualties? Obviously, from what we are hearing now, with having the same person going to this youth camp, there must be some kind of political motivation behind this. He wanted to go into the soul of the Norwegian people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What sort of history does your country have with terrorist incidents of any kind?

ANDERS TVEGARD: We haven’t had any terrorist attacks on Norwegian soil for many years. I mean, this is the bloodiest attack since World War II. But there have been a lot of threats to Norway because we are part of NATO. We have forces in international military operations.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Afghanistan, Libya.


And we are also meddling peace — doing peace facilitation, which can make us targets. We have been on Sri Lanka. We have been in Haiti, Sudan, lots of — lots of places talking to people which not necessarily — necessarily share our views on that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: As you look at these pictures of your home country, what is it — what comes to your mind?

ANDERS TVEGARD: I’m saddened to see the report you just had here. I live 10 minutes walking distance from the prime minister’s office.

And this is a lively part of Oslo. And knowing that Norway has been attacked by somebody, it’s hard to understand. I — all my friends in Norway are still in shock. There will be some hard days to come. And we are not sure how to deal with this at the moment. And there are so many unanswered questions. Why did he do this? Was he alone? Is it part of an international terror organization? Which the police says, probably not. But, still, how can people go to bed tonight?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that’s a very good question. How can people go to bed tonight?

Anders Tvegard joining us here in Washington, Finn Hagensen joining us from Oslo, we want to thank both of you. And our condolences to you and to your countrymen.