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Terror alert: Norway closes parts of Bergen airspace

Officials at Bergen's airport in Norway stepped up security measures in light of an ongoing terror alert.
Officials at Bergen's airport in Norway stepped up security measures in light of an ongoing terror alert.Bergen

Norway, known as an extremely peaceful nation, closed part of the airspace over Bergen Saturday, according to the AFP, while also tightening border checks. The additional securing measures came two days after the country upped security following a terror alert.

Norway has been on high alert since Thursday, when its intelligence service, PST, said it had "recently received information that a group of extremists from Syria may be planning a terrorist attack" in the country. The threat has been called "non-specific" but "credible," according to PST statements.

"Police have requested Avinor (Norway's state-owned airport operator) to ban flights over central Bergen," said Gustav Landro, chief of staff at the Hordaland county police department.

Police said the airspace ban applied only to smaller private and recreational flights over the center of the western city.

I personally flew out of Bergen's airport Saturday, and noted both solid security measures and smooth operations.

Also on Saturday, authorities said they would check the ID of all travelers entering Norway until further notice. It was three years ago that right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in two separate attacks in and near Oslo. Following that tragedy, Norwegian police were heavily criticized for their slow response. Should there be another attack, officials were determined to be better prepared.

Norway does not belong to the European Union, but is part of the Schengen area, which includes 26 European countries that have abolished passport and other types of border controls for people traveling within the group of nations.

The terror alert coincided with two big events: The 2014 Tall Ships Races in Bergen, which ran from July 24 - 26, and the Norway Cup, which started in Oslo Sunday. According to international reports, five out of the tournament's 100 teams dropped out of the event due to concerns about a possible terror attack.

The suspected perpetrator is French-Algerian Mehdi Nemmouche, who spent more than a year fighting alongside jihadist militants in Syria.