July 31, 2012 -- U.S. officials apologized today for mistakenly leaving a fake bomb attached to an embassy vehicle in Oslo and causing a bomb scare that led to the evacuation of the U.S. embassy, Norway's royal palace and part of downtown Oslo.
The device had been placed beneath an embassy vehicle as part of a security drill and then mistakenly left there. It was spotted by security guards at the embassy's front entrance when someone tried to drive the vehicle onto embassy grounds just after 11 a.m. local time, triggering the evacuation of the embassy and the palace, the cancellation of an international children's soccer game nearby, and an interruption of nearby subway train traffic.
Deputy State Dept. spokesperson Patrick Ventrell confirmed that the device had been used in a previous drill and then forgotten.
"This morning at our U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway," said Ventrell, "Embassy security staff identified a suspicious device in an Embassy-owned vehicle and took appropriate precautions. Upon investigation, the device was determined to be a non-threatening training device previously used in an exercise."
"We regret any disruption caused by this incident not only for visitors to the Embassy and others, but neighbors, and we take any potential threat seriously and respond immediately."
In Oslo, the U.S. ambassador apologized to police via a phone call, according to Norwegian media. An embassy spokeswoman also issued a public apology. "The Embassy regrets the uproar this caused," said Marit Andersen. "But to ensure the safety of embassy employees, visitors and our neighbors, it is necessary that we take every security threat seriously and act accordingly. The Embassy would like to express gratitude for the extremely fast and professional response from Norwegian emergency services. "
The Oslo bomb squad, emergency services and other agencies responded to the bomb alert. The children's soccer game was cancelled so the field could be used to land helicopters. The Oslo squad removed the object and determined that it was a dummy bomb. The Oslo City Council, according to Norwegian media, is seeking compensation for the police response.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.