Syrian-born youth killed while building bomb in Norway

Friday, August 19, 2005

A 17-year old Syrian-born youth was killed and his 19-year old brother seriously injured on Thursday by a bomb they are suspected of having been building in their Oslo flat. Several youths were being questioned by the police for suspected involvement.

The 19-year old brother is described as being in stable condition. Two women and one man, present but not injured when the suspected bomb exploded, are being questioned by investigators.

Police said they found instructions on making bombs downloaded from the internet at the scene. "At the scene we found written instructions on how to make explosives and some powder that the youngsters had mixed," said police inspector Vidar Hjulstad speaking to Norwegian public radio NRK. [1]

A 20-year old Pakistani-born friend has been charged with illegal handling of expolosives and is being questioned by police.

The 17-year old has a large criminal record including 17 car thefts, threats, robbing a store, drug abuse and violence against a civil servant. He had reportedly been studying chemistry at Sofienberg Technical College.

Police said the target of the bombs might have been ticket machines on the Oslo transportation system, with the purpose of stealing the money they contain. "It looks most like [the dead 17-year old] had made the explosives to blow up ticket machines on the Oslo transport system," said Oslo assistant chief of police Terje Kristiansen. He said a ticket machine in Oslo had recently been blown up. Police say they do not suspect any tie to Islamic extremism and Kristiansen said, "It looks like personal gain was the main cause."[2]

A couple living near by anonymously said they had previously reported bomb-making activity at the apartment to police but had been ignored. They said ten people in total were involved in making bombs at the Oslo flat. "This is not the first explosion. We have heard many bangs and smelled lead or gunpowder afterwards," the couple told Dagsavisen newspaper.[3] Kristiansen said he was not aware of their reports.

The entire apartment building has been evacuated as police investigate. They are said to be evaluating the risk of another accidental blast.