Updates on the Oslo bombing
UPDATED JULY 22, 8:27 P.M. EDT
THIS VERSION HAS BEEN CORRECTED
WASHINGTON -- At least seven people are dead Friday after an explosion rocked a government building in Oslo, Norway and a man dressed as a police officer opened fire at a youth camp outside the capital.
Al-Qaida-linked terrorists have taken responsibility for Friday's attacks, a respected blog about counter-terrorism reported.
However, a police official later told The Associated Press that the 32-year-old ethnic Norwegian suspect arrested at the camp on Utoya island appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that "it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all."
An officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo said all American personnel assigned to the mission were safe and accounted for, though personnel were still checking to see if any American tourists had been at the scene.
Abu Suleiman al Nasser issued a statement saying the bombing was connected to a Dec. 2010 attack in Stockholm, Sweden, according to The Long War Journal, a blog on counter-terrorism, which received a translation of the statement from the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist groups online.
"Norway was targeted today to be a lesson and an example to the other countries of Europe," Nasser said in a statement posted on the al-Qaida -linked Shumukh al Islam forum. "Since the Stockholm invasion we had threatened more operations and we demanded that the countries of Europe withdraw their armies from the land of Afghanistan and stop their war on Islam and Muslims. We repeat our warning anew to the countries of Europe, and we say to them: carry out the demands of the mujahideen, because what you are seeing is merely the beginning, and what is coming is more."
Speaking to reporters on Friday, President Barack Obama extended his personal condolences to the people of Norway.
“It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring," he said. "We have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks."
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a statement on Friday condemning the attacks.
"On behalf of NATO, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the heinous acts of violence in Norway. I would like to convey my sincere condolences to the Norwegian government, the Norwegian people and the families and loved ones of all those who suffered in these cruel and cowardly acts.
"Our solidarity with Norway remains steadfast. NATO countries stand united in the battle against these acts of violence."
Chris Riley, a senior spokesman for NATO, said the alliance is “trying to get its head around” what happened and that no official comments will be made until the Norwegians speak about the alleged bombing.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said there was “at least one, maybe two explosions.”
The site is home to several Norwegian government buildings, as well as a leading newspaper.
One member of the embassy staff was near the site and later described the devastation to colleagues, the officer said.
Buildings in a five-block radius had windows damaged and the sounds of an explosion could be heard as far away as 5 kilometers away, the officer said. The embassy, located about 1 kilometer away from the blast site, was undamaged.
The U.S. European Command was closely following the situation, but had not directed U.S. military communities across the continent to increase force-protection levels as of 4:30 p.m. CET, according to Army Capt. Cody Starken, a EUCOM spokesman.
“As of right now, it has not changed,” Starken said, adding that specific questions about force protection or security issues in Norway were being directed to the U.S. Embassy in Oslo.
The U.S. does not maintain major military bases in Norway, though some American personnel are assigned to a NATO command in Stavanger.
"We're monitoring, but don't have any comment at this time," said Doug Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, at the Pentagon.