following report was provided live via satellite phone by Jans Bergen,
ENN's Sports Editor, shortly after an attack at the Bodo airport in
ANCHOR: ...We have
on the line ENN's Jans Bergen, who was in Norway to cover the Russian
National Hockey team's arrival at Bodo airport. Apparently
something dramatic has occurred and we now bring him live via
satellite phone. Jans, are you there..?
Yes, Marilee. I'm now on the road leading from the Bodo airport along
with other civilian vehicles fleeing the scene.
What happened there, Jans?
I arrived at the airport around 11:15 pm local time to get set up
for a press conference with the Russian Hockey Team, who were arriving in
Norway to face the Norwegian team later this week.
were suppose to touch down at around 11:45, but we started seeing some
unusual activity by airport personnel around 11:30, and then the Russian
aircraft came into view from the east a few minutes after that..
What kind of activity did you see?
Search lights were pointed at the airplane, just below the cockpit
area of Aeroflot
Flight 661.. a large 4 engine jet aircraft.. and on both the
civilian and military sides of the complex we could see Military Police
taking up defensive positions - primarily on the west end of the runway
- and then a number of fuel and utility trucks moved up to block some of
the taxiways at that end.
as I said, the Aeroflot jetliner appeared in the distance around 11:34
or so, with a couple of F16 fighters on either side as it was coming in for a
landing... and that's where everything went nuts...
was following the jet's descent through my camera's telephoto lens, and could see early on that the plane was not going to land properly...
it was coming in way too steep and too slow to make the end of the
runway. Sure enough, it belly flopped onto the deep snow about two
or three hundred meters short and skidded through the snow and then onto the
runway - sliding to a stop maybe a quarter of the way down.
What happened then? Was the plane on fire?
No it wasn't on fire at first, but after a half minute or so I could
make out people running from a rear ramp of the airplane - it may have
been a converted cargo plane or something, as Russian passenger planes
sometimes are - and others started coming out emergency exits along the
sides. Then I was surprised to see a couple of snow mobiles and
two motorcycles or dirt bikes roar off that back ramp and begin racing towards the military section of the
wasn't sure if the plane had crashed for some reason or what was going
on, but I figured out something unusual had occurred when I saw some
distant explosions and then an antiaircraft gun near the scene of the
crash opened up on the plane itself. The snow banks along the
runway are pretty high, and certainly too high for the gun crew to see
the people who by now were mostly well away from the airplane, but the
plane was definitely in sight and they began shooting at it.
The Norwegian guns were shooting at the plane? ..the one that crashed?
Yes, I could see there were some people still scrambling off and away
from the plane just as it blew up.. likely when the fuel tanks ignited.
We all hit the floor, but there was enough distance between us and the
explosion that the windows just shook really hard. It was at
that point that I trained my camera lens on the passengers that had
escaped the blast, and saw they were armed with rifles or assault guns,
and THEY were shooting too!
Who were they shooting at? What were the airport personnel doing?
Well, people inside the airport terminal were running all over the
place and a lot of the staff appeared to be fleeing the building
altogether. But outside we could see a few of the MPs on the other end
of the runway firing their weapons, but their targets were about one
thousand meters or more away so I doubt they hit much.
from the passenger jet's fire made it easier to see that the source of
the earlier explosions must have been three or four Norwegian fighter
planes parked on the taxiway near where the Aeroflot plane ended
up. The passengers.. Russian soldiers I guess I should say... were
swarming all around the destroyed fighters and dispersing towards the
military complex. Another smaller group seemed to be positioned on the
other side of the runway, firing towards that antiaircraft gun I
Could you still see those motorcycles and snowmobiles and where they
Yes, I was able to make out the snowmobiles since they were on the
military side of the airport which is well lit. They actually didn't get
very far because some low level fighters - F16s I'm sure - strafed
and fired on them. The snowmobiles didn't explode, but they
must have been hit because I saw one come to a stop and another hit a
utility pole and there was no movement whatsoever after that by the
scanned the airfield and saw the two motorcycles, one behind the other,
racing westward along the runway. I was momentarily distracted by a
couple of other fiery explosions up near where the earlier Norwegian
jets had blown up, and when I looked back I saw that someone had driven
a huge fuel truck onto the runway, right in the path of the
motorcycles! It looks like they riders tried to avoid the truck,
but whether they slipped or just couldn't turn in time I'm not sure -
both clipped or slammed into the truck and skidded a long ways down the
runway before stopping.
The riders.. did they get up at all? Were they armed?
I saw some equipment slide along near them, and I'm pretty sure I saw a
large rifle of some sort, but the drivers didn't get up. No.
was all within five minutes of the Russian plane's first appearance, and
it was soon after the bikes went down that I saw some Norwegian F16s
taxiing along the west end of the runway, furthest from most of the
Did they take off okay?
Well there were four attempts that I saw, and I'm not sure how much
runway they normally need to lift off but they were really accelerating
hard as soon as they got onto the runway - I'm sure they used
afterburners and everything else they had.
only one of the first pair made it... both were shot at by something..
maybe an RPG or anti-tank missile... SAM.. I'm not sure.. the first was
missed and was able to lift off but the second took a hit near the tail
and swerved off the pavement and into the snow alongside - whether
because the pilot steered off on purpose or as a result of the hit I don't know...
more pair of F16s took off right behind them - one in each lane - and I
saw the forward one get hit for sure.. I think the pilot may have even
ejected but I'm not certain... The second just barely missed
getting hit by a couple of missiles... they might have been heat seeking SAMs
because the F16 was firing flares regularly as it struggled to gain
altitude. I managed to follow it for quite a while in the sky and
it looked like it got away fine.
What was going on at that time between the ground forces?
I couldn't follow that very well. I could see some flashes of gunfire..
actually a lot of flashes.. but they were moving towards the better lit
military side of the airfield opposite where I was, so I couldn't track
them as well. I did see that the airfield's security forces - MPs and
soldiers - were heading towards the Russian soldiers' locations,
shooting as they went.
watched as well as I could from where I lay on the floor of the
terminal.. some other reporters stayed nearby but most had fled along
with virtually all the airport staff. But after five or more
minutes some explosions started going off near the Control Tower and a large
radar array across the runway from us on the military side. They weren't
due to any enemy aircraft or missiles, since I would've seen them in the
sky, so they had to be mortars of some sort.
terminal was virtually empty at that point and the ground fighting was
moving closer - almost parallel to us - so I decided I'd better leave
while I had the chance. I ran out to my car, fortunately parked
nearby, and joined the convoy of vehicles fleeing the fighting.
also noticed a few military vehicles and civilian cars heading towards
the airport, and guess they may been nearby home guard or reserve
soldiers intending to bolster the airport defenders. However there
were not very many of them and, based on the speed of the Russian
attackers as they advanced along the airfield, I think they will be too
little too late.
my opinion, the airport will fall to the Russians eventually and will
stay that way until heavier armed Norwegian forces can arrive to take it
back. And even if they do reclaim the airfield, there has been a lot of
damage done to the facility and it will take a while before it can be up
and running again.
Thank you Jans for that riveting report. Stay safe and contact us when
you get more information for us.