Oslo: Snipers protect Obama
Oslo - More than 2 000 police, including snipers and sniffer dog handlers, will be mobilised for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on Thursday honouring US President Barack Obama, police said.
"It's without doubt the biggest police mobilisation ever in Norway to ensure the safety of a single person," an Oslo police official, Johan Fredriksen, told AFP.
Part of the Norwegian capital's normally-peaceful centre will be completely blocked off during the US leader's visit. Snipers will be placed on roofs and manhole covers have already been sealed.
Between 2 000 and 2 500 police officers will be mobilised, most of whom will for the rare occasion carry weapons, Fredriksen said.
The Norwegian government has earmarked 92 million kroner (€10.9m) to cover security needs during Obama's visit - more than 10 times the prize money awarded to the Peace Prize laureate.
A number of organisations have said they plan to hold demonstrations on Thursday evening near the hotel where Obama will be staying, notably to protest against his decision to send an additional 30 000 troops to Afghanistan and against nuclear weapons.
"The Peace Prize creates obligations. The decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan is sad and cynical and this shows that Obama has not understood his obligations," Benjamin Endre Larsen, the head of umbrella organisation Fredsinitiativet organising the demonstration, told AFP.
"We think that Obama received the prize prematurely, but now that he has it he has to prove himself worthy," he added.
Oslo police said they would do their best to ensure that all opinions could be expressed openly in Obama's proximity.
"We have absolutely no intention of censoring or impeding freedom of expression. An experienced politician must be able to tolerate all kinds of messages. That's good and healthy for democracy," Fredriksen said.