Kingston Students shaken by bomb blast

Brother tells of 17 friends dead

Nation's youth uniting after attacks

Bomb and shootings touch Kingston Students in Norway

Kingston Students Shaken by bomb blast
Brother tells of 17 friends dead
Nation’s youth uniting after attacks

By Therese Doksheim and Kaia Tufteland


Laying flowers at the Oslo bomb site, Politics and Journalism student Vegard Botterli ran across a fellow KU student and her brother, an active member of Norway’s Labour youth movement, who had lost 17 of his closest friends in the island shooting.
Other Kingston University students in Norway have told River Online of how close they were to the attacks in Oslo and Utøya that killed 77 mostly young people and shocked a nation.
Sandra Nilssen, 21, was working at the shopping centre Oslo City, just blocks away from where the bomb hit government buildings. She said it did not take too long before she realised it had to be a bomb that had gone off somewhere in town.
“Then panic broke out, and we were all told to lock up the store and go home. We were told not to use the buses or tubes, and to stay inside,” she said. “I kept watching the news that evening, and as new information was coming out all the time I didn’t really have time to understand how devastating and sad it all was. I was just shocked.”
KU student, Julie Lauritzen was 15 minutes away from the site when the bomb exploded. She said: “It’s unreal. There was lots of glass in the streets and people were bleeding all over. Unthinkable.”
Right-wing extremist, Anders Behring Breivik, has admitted responsibility for the attacks and is in prison awaiting trial.
Many Norwegians said they felt as if they had lost someone close to them, even if they did not.
“When I read about the shooting at Utøya, I did not think it had anything to do with the bombing, until I read more news about it,” said Christina Marrero Øverås, a third year creative writing and English literature student.
She was working in the Blindern cafeteria at the university of Oslo. She said she was in total disbelief when she heard the news. “I thought the twitter messages from people at Utøya were fake, everything just seemed unbelievable,” said Øverås.
Another Kingston creative writing student, Ros Jackson, was at the University of Oslo when the bomb hit. Jackson and Øverås thought it was heavy thunder. “It was pretty surreal,” said Jackson, who is working in Oslo over the summer. “The whole atmosphere at the university changed.”
Nilssen told how reality hit her two evenings after the attacks. She said she is still struggling to understand how this could happen in Norway, a country supposed to be safe and without fear.
“I think this will lead to more safety around public people. That is such a shame, because that’s what has always been so good about Norway: that events and public speaking could go on without much security. It’s destroyed some of that feeling of safety,” she said.
The atrocities have raised questions among Norwegian and foreign commentators about how this happened and how it will change the perception of public safety in a country known for its liberal outlook.
Kingston academic, Dr Andrea Mammone, has analysed the political motivations behind the attacks in the context of terrorism and right wing radicalism since the end of World War II.
Still, students and Norwegians have said they feel a new sense of unity since the attacks.
“It is very powerful to see how the Norwegian people stick together in a crisis like this. You see flowers all over Oslo, and it is a constant reminder on how important it is to keep your head up high,” said Lauritzen.
KU Vice Chancellor, Julius Weinberg, has written of respect for the “tradition of openness and tolerance that characterises Norway,“ and offered support of the University’s staff and student bodies.
Thirty-two of the victims were remembered at a service at Oslo Cathedral. The youngest victim was 14 years old and 61 of the 77 killed were aged between 14 and 23. Flowers, poems and greetings were put down on local places and torchlight processions have taken place in many cities throughout Norway.
In his speech at the service, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said: “Every single death is a tragedy. Together they add up to a national tragedy … Amidst all this tragedy, I am proud to live in a country that has managed to hold its head up high at a critical time.”
The youngsters killed on the Island had bright futures in politics and their loss is seen not only as part of the national tragedy, but as a great loss for the Norwgian Labour Party. In his memorial speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged some of the most promising among them.
He also said: “We will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity.”

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