Friday, July 22nd, two terrorist attacks took place in centre of Oslo and the island of Utøya, approximately 50 km outside Oslo.
A huge bomb exploded in a van on the street in the midst of the government building complex which in Norway is an open area with access for all. The prime ministers office and several ministries were destroyed and the streets looked like a war zone. 7 people are so far confirmed dead and at least 14 seriously wounded.
The headoffice of Norwegian Church Aid is only 200 metres from the place where the bomb blasted. Our building was shaken and colleagues actually observed the blast from our windows. None were injured and no damage was done to the building.
One hour later started what turned out to be a massacre at Utøya aimed at the traditional summercamp of the Youth League of the ruling Labour Party. We woke up to the news that at least 84 young people were killed and many wounded.
The whole of Norway is in shock and mourning. Volunteers are mobilizing and churches are opened. We are now experiencing what many of you already have experienced; terror has now also come to Norway.
Whilst some “experts” and international press early speculated that the attack could be linked to extreme jihadists, the Norwegian officials resisted to speculate.
This morning it was announced that one named person is arrested and charged for both acts. He belongs to a right-wing, anti-muslim and christian-fundamentalistic sub-culture in Norway and has been active on blogs. His motives and whether he acted alone, are still unknown.
Dear friends, please pray with the families and affected and for all Norwegians. We all need the gift of wisdom to handle the most serious crisis in our society since the Second World War. The future will be a struggle to keep our society as open as it has been .The prime-minister and other political leaders express deep commitment to deepen rather that weaken our open culture, not being ruled by fear, but by our human, democratic and open values and traditions. Norwegian Church Aid will be part of that struggle.
Norwegian Church Aid is committed to inclusive societies where people of different cultural, religious, ethnic and political belongings, are able to work together for compassion, justice and participation for all. Our vision and mission is not threatened by this terrible acts, it is confirmed. But we need strength.
Our friends all over the world give us strength. For those of you who pray, a prayer from the Anglican Church of Kenya may also be of help:
God of might and power,
You support us through temptation
You support us in danger
And carry us through temptation.
Give us grace to trust in You,
That, though by nature we are frail and weak,
we may stand upright in any time of trial.
And let us all rest in the word of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are those who mourn, God will comfort them; and further: Blessed are those who work for peace, God will call them his children.