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Special Report

Coverage and translation provided by Vaijskä Radio

Tuesday, 8 January, 2002

Visken bombing a terrorist plot

Timely signal by the enemy from within

By Kristian Estilsen

Car bomb killing three and causing destructions.

PORTI IKSTIS, (VKK) - A statement released today by radical Visken separatist group Fiskýr Vriegetufórsid (Liberation Front of Viske) claiming responsibilities to yesterday's fatal bombing has sought shock waves throughout Fyksland and Europe. It confirms authorities' assumption of treating yesterday's bombing as a terrorist act.

A bomb exploded outside the Ducal Office in Porti Ikstis at 16:30 on Monday, killing three and injuring 10 others, whilst buildings as far as a block away were damaged. The powerful explosives are believed to have been planted in a vehicle parked on Nórmanstrut where the Visken Duchy administrative building is located.

Authorities have confirmed the unsolicited and untraceable fax sent to VKK's headquarters in Kaansä this morning -- which claimed responsibilities to yesterday's bombing -- was written by radical Visken separatist group Fiskýr Vriegetufórsid.

The FV claimed in the fax that the bombing was "a deliberately-timed signal to the Fyksian government and the Royal Family." The message also hinted a possible attack on officials or members of the royal family in next week's Fyksland Day celebration. Authorities are taking no chances and immediately stepped up securities in Portis Ikstis' Hvarðam Airport and Central Station. Meanwhile, there is no plan to postpone or cancel the Fyksland Day 445th anniversary celebration next Monday.

This new development is consistence with the authorities' earlier assumption that the bombing was to be investigated as a terrorist act.

Ján Kárlson, 24, Helena Gutýsdotir, 41, and Feiya Nyetsen, 33 were killed in the blast. All three were employees of the Visken ducal office. They were in the vicinity of the car bomb whilst they were leaving work.

Ten passer-bys were injured by flying debris from the powerful blast and were treated in nearby St. Mágnus Hospital. Most of the windows facing Nórmanstrut, including those of the ducal office were shattered. The vehicle where the bomb detonated was reduced to nothing but a burnt twisted mess of metals and ash. Five vehicles parked near the bomb were also destroyed, whilst as least eight others received "substantial" damages. Damages were estimated to be over 2.5 million krons.

"It's like a war zone," described one pedestrian after the incident.

Prime Minister Stotson declared a state of emergency in the Duchy of Viske whilst delivering a radio address an hour after the incident.

Viske separatist party Parti Isfjordika immediately re-affirmed its disassociation with the radical group as soon as the FV claim was released. Party leader Válstak Dág in a news conference Monday said "Parti Isfjordika and its members renounce violence of any kind." Dág also promised co-operation with the authorities to bring the responsible individuals to justice.

Parti Isfjordika leader Válstak Dág disassociates him and his party from the FV.

Stotson: An isolated wake-up call

Meanwhile the nation is still coping with not the magnitude of the attack but with the surprise element. The first political bombing attack on Fyksian soil since World War II, the Visken incident caught many, even Viskens off-guard.

Leaders around Europe and the world were just as surprised at Monday's bombings as many Fyksians. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar expressed sympathies to the victims and linked Fiskýr Vriegetufórsid with the Basque ETA in Spanish both "destructive forces to civilised and united nations." In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told VKK the attack has "no justifiable cause."

Here at home, Prime Minister Jana Stotson condemned the attack and expressed outrage and shock at the terrorist attack, but described the attack as an "isolated wake-up call". "The Vriegetufórsid has caught us off-guard," said Stotson, "but you can be sure everything will be done to make sure these fanatics will never do it again."

The bombing has put Fyksland, together with Spain, the only two EU countries with active separatist extremist groups.

The Visken nationalism

Whilst the Visken separatist movement, for decades, has never been anything more than political parties that occasionally push their issues over the table at the Alþig, there is now a widely circulated fear that the recently grouped Fiskýr Vriegetufórsid and their radical movement may escalate into something like Northern Ireland's IRA or Basque's ETA.

The Duchy of Viske has been part of Fyksland since the founding of the Fyksian kingdom in the 8th century. Visken has been identifying themselves more with our Icelandic neighbour, whom they share a similar tradition and even the alphabetic system. Migrants from Iceland have been the basis of the Visken population who settled in their new Fyksian home in several waves between 10th and 15th centuries. Icelandic names, though largely Fyksianised, still resonates among the Visken population.

Isfjordic is spoken by 22% of all Fyksians, 87% of whom live in Viske with as much as 70% of Viskens being bilingual. Even though the Isfjordic language shares a similar alphabet system with Icelandic, there is no link between the Fyksian dialect with Icelandic. As one of the most distinctive Fyksian dialects, Isfjordic is mutually unintelligible with Fyksian.

Separated by culture and language, the Viske duchy has been struggling for independence over the course of history. The republican movement has always been the strongest in the northern duchy, where Viske would be happy to rid of the old-fashioned feudal system.

The Visken compromise

The last dark period of Visken nationalism ended in the 1966 Porti Ikstis riot. The incident finally prompted the Alþig to pass the Official Languages Act and made Isfjordic a semi-official language in 1967. The progress was symbolised by the debut of issuing bilingual currency. By 1972, all schools in Fyksland offer Isfjordic instructions at least through second language courses.

But many see that not enough was done to recognise the distinctive Viske. Visken Republicans would like to see a separate republic within the Fyksian State. Always been a stronghold for the republican movement, Viske has been dominated by the Republican Party for 64 years before the separatist Parti Isfjordika was formed in 1989.

Parti Isfjordika has since then advocated greater decentralisation for the duchy, elevated and improved Isfjordic's status as a semi-official language. But the most important problem, it seems, is poverty in the northern region. The Viske duchy has the highest concentration of low-income families and the highest unemployment rate in the nation. And the root of the problem can not be the difference in culture and language alone.

Viske, at the height of its hardship in recent years, has seen steady increase of right-wing support. Many are simply anti-european and anti-immigration. These are precisely the issues Viskens have no control over and the only hope to correct their situations, it seems, is to break away from the Union that has lasted almost the past 11 centuries.

The Visken solution

Alleged Visken bombing mastermind Fiskýr Vriegetufórsid leader Mágnus Hároldson.

But the most horrifying thought was that the rise of the FV in the last few years was hardly unexpected. The Fiskýr Vriegetufórsid was formed in 1999, led by former Parti Isfjordika member Mágnus Hároldson. Many saw the FV as a renegade party, one that was particularly vocal and radical on changes. The group steadily gained support over the years and acquired valuable patronage such as financial support from billionaire Timon Lóghson.

The Federal Investigation Unit (SMU) has always put the group under surveillance. A number of the FV members have already been arrested over the years on weapon possession charges. Even more were detained for participating in neo-nazis style demonstrations and gatherings.

But no matter how controversial their party promotions were, their activities were legitimate under protection of freedom of speech. Fyksian law also ensured their assets and financial links were well kept out of reach by SMU, at least until something happens.

The FV's action on Monday may seem the most out of place in Fyksland's tolerant society, but it was barely shocking based on the trend the radical group has been following.

Monday's bombing has seemed to point the Viske question to a new direction, the root of the problem was more fundamental than mere cultural and ethnic differences. It was a wake-up call indeed for the Alþig to revisit the Viske policies.

Kristian Estilsen is a columnist for Staandæt Poste based in Porti Ikstis.

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