Explosion destroys motorcycle gang headquarters in Norway
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ A bomb leveled the Norwegian headquarters of the Bandidos motorcycle gang, killing a passer-by and setting off fires that damaged nearby buildings. Norwegian leaders called Thursday for a crackdown on the gang and their rivals, the Hell’s Angels.
The Wednesday night blast also injured four people _ none of whom belonged to the motorcycle gangs. It blew out windows up to a mile away from the normally quiet neighborhood of Drammen, 18 miles south of Oslo.
The Bandidos headquarters was reduced to a pile of rubble that still smoldered nine hours later.
The victim, identified by police as Irene Astrid Bekkevold, 51, was the first bystander killed in the three-year feud between the Bandidos and the Hells Angels in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
She was killed while she drove by the building in her car, which was destroyed by the explosion. Her husband was among the wounded.
Police said the blast was apparently caused by a car bomb placed near the entrance to the Bandidos headquarters. They said they were seeking two vans seen near the building before the explosion, but had no suspects.
At least three men wearing only underwear were seen fleeing from the building.
Norwegian leaders reacted with anger to the killing and wounding of innocent passers-by.
``These damned murderers,″ raged Norway’s usually mild Prime Minister Thorbjorn Jagland during a visit Thursday to the blast site.
He said he would propose legislation banning the gangs from populated areas and would not let the Bandidos set up a new headquarters until after the law was passed.
``We will do everything we can to fight such criminality, which has now hurt completely innocent people,″ Justice Minister Gerd-Liv Valla vowed as she surveyed the damage.
Police in Denmark intensified surveillance of motorcycle gangs Thursday, fearing retaliations from the Bandidos against the Hells Angels, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.
At least 10 other people have been killed and more than 60 injured in the three-year feud between the Bandidos and the Hells Angels gangs in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
In the past year, the attacks, including ones with rocket-propelled grenades and car bombs, have become increasingly violent and heedless of public safety.
The two gangs claim affiliation with two U.S. groups the Hells Angels, based in Oakland, Calif., and the Bandidos of Corpus Christi, Texas.