'Who would have thought that little, safe Oslo would have seen such terror?'

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The Independent Online

Witnesses of the explosion that tore through government buildings in Oslo yesterday spoke of the confusion and disbelief in the immediate aftermath of the bombings.

Many who were nearby rushed to the scene of the attack, close to the oil ministry, and discovered many people injured and buildings badly damaged.

Norwegian journalist Ingunn Andersen told the BBC: "We were sitting at a café one block away and it felt like the building was going to fall down over us. It was a loud explosion and we ran out on the street... glass was all over the street and there were people lying there bleeding, it was chaos, we didn't know what to do."

Kristine Nyborg, a freelance photographer based in Oslo, was in a building less than a mile away from the blast. She said: "The building shook and there was a huge explosion – we thought it was thunder but it was only a few moments later that we started getting texts telling us what had happened. I ran out with my camera and I got to the blast zone.

"I was trying to ask police if I could go into see what was going on, but he was yelling that we had to stay away. All around the blast zone all the buildings had shattered glass. People were standing around taking pictures on their mobile phones, but police were trying to get them to leave.

"I saw one man taken away with gauze wrapped around his head, he had blood all over his face. There were ambulances and one woman was carried away. She was bleeding from the feet. One woman I spoke to told me that she had been allowed into the blast zone because she was a medical student. She described it as looking like a war zone. She urged me to make sure I walked in the middle of the street to avoid falling glass.

"The atmosphere here in Oslo is sombre, but I think people are somehow in a state of disbelief because this has never happened before. It's Norway so we're not very well prepared for these things. We don't know what is going on and there is not much information and all the police seem to have gone to the island where all the kids are. Ambulance crews seem to be going from floor to floor in the damaged government building to see if they can find any more survivors.

"Within 20 minutes, the police had blocked off the entire area. The city centre is pretty dead. It seems like a lot of people have gone home. They made everyone leave except for the press."

Businesswoman Cecilie Troan was 10 minutes away from the government buildings when the bomb went off outside PM's offices. "We couldn't hear the explosion but we soon realised something had happened when the police and ambulance sirens started. The bomb went off outside the Prime Minister's office and we still are not being told whether he was in the office at the time or not. The bomb went off right in the centre of the city known as the Grensen, just behind the parliament building and right next door to our two biggest newspapers, VG and Aftenposten, and the government buildings.

"Luckily it's a public holiday and there weren't too many people in the city. There is talk it may have been the Iraqi Krekar, the political refugee who is fighting a court case at the moment.

"We've heard that the people on the island – where the Labour Party's Youth party was meeting – have been getting off the island and swimming to the mainland. They say the man was dressed as a police officer. One former prime minister, Gro Brundtland, was at the meeting this morning talking to the youth there and Mr Stoltenberg was due to go to the meeting tomorrow. Everything has been shut down – the airport, the station, and all cars are being stopped and searched. Who would have thought little, safe Oslo would see such terror?"