Nightmare in Norway: One man’s madness kills 91 (Evening Lead)

July 23rd, 2011 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Oslo, July 23 (IANS) Shell-shocked Norwegian authorities Saturday searched for more victims after a rightwing Christian massacred 84 people on an island, soon after carrying out a deadly bombing in the capital that killed seven people. A numbed Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the bloodbath “a nightmare”.

As country after country reached out to Norway with messages of condolences and solidarity, police arrested and charged a 32-year-old man, Anders Behring Breivik, with both the atrocities perpetrated Friday.

The Norwegian media identified Breivik as “an ethnic Norwegian” and a member of a right extremist group in the country’s east and added he had a record of earlier arrest.

“Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime on this scale,” Prime Minister Stoltenberg said in Oslo. He said the killings resembled a “nightmare” and were a tragedy for the country of 4.6 million.

The authorities asked Norwegians and others to avoid Oslo’s centre, where a devastating car bomb Friday ripped apart government offices, including those of Stoltenberg, leaving seven dead and about 90 injured.

The dead included civil servants, some known to Stoltenberg.

That attack was initially linked to Al Qaeda and affiliated groups by terrorism experts. Even before Oslo could digest the enormity of the crime came news of the massacre on the island of Utoeya, 40 km away.

That immediately changed everyone’s assessment.

According to police accounts, soon after the Oslo attack, Breivik travelled to the wooded island where the ruling Labour Party was holding a youth camp, attended by some 600 people.

Many of them were aged between 14 and 18 years. According to The Economic Voice, they were there to take part in debates and listen to speeches on a variety of issues, including Norway’s educational system.

A Norwegian journalist told BBC that the man came to the island on a ferry boat posing as a police officer, “saying he was there to do research in connection with the (Oslo) bomb blasts”.

“He asked people to gather round and then he started shooting, so these young people fled into the bushes and woods. Some even swam off the island to get to safety,” journalist Ole Torp was quoted as saying.

Another published account said the shooting spree went on for an hour, and that the killings were “especially horrific”.

The authorities did not ascribe any apparent motive to the killings even as they searched for more bodies in land and water.

It was not clear how the gunman, who was armed with a handgun, an automatic weapon and a shotgun, was caught. Officials said a few teenagers were shot even as they jumped into the water.

An unnamed 15-year-old said the assassin “first shot people on the island” and then those who had jumped into the water to make a desperate escape. Numerous people were injured — and rushed to hospitals.

Stoltenberg, who had been scheduled to visit the youth camp Saturday, was devastated.

“We are a small country, but a very proud one,” he said in a statement. “Nobody can bomb us to be quiet. Nobody can shoot us to be quiet. Nobody can ever scare us from being Norway.”

According to a Facebook profile of the killer, Breivik’s interests are hunting, e-sports and body building.

His posts on a Norwegian website show he is against multiculturalism and advocates a struggle between nationalism and internationalism. He has been running a small agriculture company since 2009.

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