News reports are coming into today of a terrorist attack in Norway.

It appears that a gunman opened fire on a youth conference on the island of Utoya, killing four people and possibly wounding others. In the last hour it was reported that police had arrested a suspected gunman.

Prior to this, there were reports of a bomb blast targeting Government buildings in Oslo. The BBC news reports:

Television footage from the government quarter showed rubble and glass from shattered windows in the streets and smoke from the fires drifting across the city. The wreckage of at least one car could be seen.

All roads into the city centre have been closed, said national broadcaster NRK, and security officials evacuated people from the area, fearing another blast.

Although any attribution at this stage is going to be difficult, there are claims that the terrorist group Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad) have issued a statement claiming responsibility and this reported as a result of unspecified insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

****update 23 July 2011****

More recent reporting indicates that the attack was carried out by a nationalist right-wing extremist  rather than Islamic militants. The overall death toll is now over 90 people.

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While it isnt possible to draw any immediate conclusions here, this is a reminder that the threat from terrorist attack remains and although very, very rare, they can have significant impact in unexpected places.

Another important thing to bear in mind as part of your risk management strategy, is that the impact of a terrorist attack can affect you and your business in varied ways – you dont have to be the target.

Some points to consider:

  • Even if you are not likely to be a terrorist target, are you in an area where there are targets – good examples are government offices, police stations, embassy / diplomatic property, military establishments or main transport hubs. Keep in mind the risk of being collateral damage.
  • Terrorist attacks cause secondary problems – transport is disrupted, areas closed off, people are reluctant to leave home etc. Bear in mind how this might affect the ability for your workers to get in and have some remote working arrangements in place. If your staff are geographically distributed, remember that effects in one place can still cause widespread issues.
  • Suppliers are just as vulnerable – not only do you have to consider keeping your own business functioning but any suppliers you rely on can be impacted even if you are not. This can be hard to mitigate directly and you may have to rely on contractual terms for protection here.

No risk management strategy can cover every topic, but you should still consider as many options as possible, especially when presented with a graphic reminder of what can go wrong.

If you want advice on how to develop and implement counter terrorist protection measures for your home or business then get in touch with Halkyn Consulting and our specialised security experts will be glad to help you out.