Norway mourns 92 terror victims

23.07.2011 - Oslo - Radio Netherlands

*”Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime on this scale,”* Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told journalists as police searched for more bodies on the idyllic Utoeya island.

The latest death toll from the island massacre stood at 85 while seven people died in the Oslo bombing.

While there was no official confirmation of the suspect’s identity, he was widely named by the local media as Anders Behring Breivik.

**Christian fundamentalist**
The blond-haired Behring Breivik described himself on his Facebook page as *”conservative”*, *”Christian”*, and interested in hunting and computer games like World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2, the reports said.

On his Twitter account, he posted only one message, dated July 17, in English based on a quote from British philosopher John Stuart Mill: *”One person with a belief is equal to a force of 100,000 who have only interests.”*

He is an *”ethnic”* Norwegian and a *”Christian fundamentalist,”* police spokesman Roger Andersen said, adding that his political opinions leaned *”to the right”*.

The head of the populist right-wing Progress Party (FrP) confirmed that Behring Breivik had been a party member between 1999 and 2006 and for several years a leader in its youth movement.

*”Those who knew the suspect when he was a member of the party say that he seemed like a modest person that seldom engaged himself in the political discussions,”* Siv Jensen said in a statement on the party’s website.

**Neo-Nazi forum**
Anti-fascist monitors meanwhile said that Behring Breivik was also a member of a Swedish neo-Nazi Internet forum named Nordisk, which hosts discussions ranging from white power music to political strategies to crush democracy.

The attacks on Friday afternoon were western Europe’s deadliest since the 2004 Madrid bombings, carried out by Al-Qaeda.

While there had been initial fears they might have been an act of revenge over Norway’s participation in the campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya, the focus shifted when it emerged the suspect was a native Norwegian.

**Police uniform**
Seven of the victims were killed in a massive explosion which ripped through government buildings, including Stoltenberg’s office and the finance ministry, in downtown Oslo.

It is thought that the bomber then caught a ferry to nearby Utoeya wearing a police sweater.

On arrival, he claimed to be investigating the bomb attack and began opening fire with an automatic weapon.

Witnesses described scenes of horror among the more than 500 people attending the youth camp. Some who tried to swim to safety were even shot in the water.

Khamshajiny Gunaratnam, a 23-year-old who swam to safety, said people had initially thought it was some kind of joke before she and her friends realised their lives were in danger.

*”We ran and ran. The worst thing was when we found out the shooter was dressed as a policeman. Who could we trust then? If we called the police, would he be the guy would come to our ‘rescue’?,”* she wrote on her blog.

She and her friend Matti swam towards the mainland as the gunman fired into the water. After a while, a boat picked them up and brought them to safety.

*”We are just ordinary young people. We are involved in politics. We want to make the world a better place,”* she wrote.

Stine Haheim, a Labour party lawmaker who was on the island, said the gunman had carried out his killings methodically.

*”He was very calm. He was not running, he was moving slowly and shooting at every person he saw,”* she said.

**Second gunman**
Some witnesses reported seeing a second gunman on Utoeya island at the time of the massacre. Police are investigating the allegations.

A second suspect was arrested on Saturday for carrying a knife while a attending a gathering in a hotel where Prime Minister Stoltenberg was meeting survivors of the Utoeya bloodbath.

**Youth paradise**
Mr Stoltenberg, as he visited some of the survivors, spoke of his own anguish at the massacre on an island to which he was a frequent visitor. He had been due to give a speech on Saturday to the camp, organised by his Labour party.

*”Many of those who have died were friends. I know their parents and it happened at a place where I spent a long time as a young person… It was a paradise of my youth that has now been turned into hell,”* he said.

The prime minister said he had been deeply moved by speaking to youngsters who had told him how they swam to shore under a hail of gunfire, in some cases helping friends who had been shot.

Norwegian police said they feared there could also be explosives on the island. According to a spokeswoman for a farming cooperative, the suspect bought six tonnes of fertiliser — which can be used to make bombs — in May.

**Dreadful atrocity**
There was widespread international condemnation with US President Barack Obama saying the attacks were *”a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring.”*

British Queen Elizabeth II also wrote to King Harald V of Norway to offer sympathy for *”the dreadful atrocity”*.

The Norwegian capital is a well-known symbol of international peace efforts and home to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Categories: Europe, International issues


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