Police search for survivors of Norway killing spree

"We don't know how many people were on the island, therefore we have to search further," authorities say after gunman kills at least 85 and separate bomb attack kills 7; police check reports that gunman had accomplice.

By REUTERS
July 23, 2011 18:07
4 minute read.
Authorities search for bodies in Utoyea, Norway

Utoeya island 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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SUNDVOLLEN - Norwegian police searched for more victims on Saturday after a suspected right-wing zealot killed at least 92 people in a shooting spree and bomb attack that have traumatized a once-placid country.

The 32-year-old Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik was arrested after Friday's massacre of young people on a tiny forested holiday island that was hosting the annual summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labor party.

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Breivik was also charged with the bombing of Oslo's government district that killed seven people hours earlier.

Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a police uniform, went on a prolonged shooting orgy on Utoeya island northwest of Oslo, picking off his prey unchallenged as youngsters scattered in panic or jumped in the lake to swim for the mainland.

"I just saw people jumping into the water, about 50 people swimming towards the shore. People were crying, shaking, they were terrified," said Anita Lien, 42, who lives by Tyrifjord lake, a few hundred metres (yards) from Utoeya.

"They were so young, between 14 and 19 years old."



Police put the death toll at 85, but did not say how many people had been wounded in the shooting.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, capturing the shock this normally quiet nation of 4.8 million is experiencing, said: "A paradise island has been transformed into a hell."

Deputy Police Chief Roger Andresen would not speculate on the motives for what was believed to be the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times.

Police combed the island and the lake, even using a mini-submarine to search the water, police inspector Bjoerne Erik Sem-Jacobsen told Reuters. "We don't know how many people were on the island, therefore we have to search further."

They were also checking media reports that some witnesses believed Breivik had an accomplice. "There are no concrete reports of a second gunman, although we're not excluding any possibilities," said Oslo police spokeswoman Trine Dyngeland.

The suspect, tall and blond, owned an organic farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which a supply firm said he had used to buy fertilizer -- possibly to make the Oslo bomb.

"These are goods that were delivered on May 4," Oddny Estenstad, a spokeswoman at farm supply chain Felleskjoepet Agri, told Reuters. "It was 6 tons of fertilizer, which is a small, normal order for a standard agricultural producer."

It was not clear if Breivik, a gun club member according to local media, had more than one weapon or whether he had stocked ammunition on Utoeya, where police found explosives.

Initial speculation after the Oslo blast had focused on Islamist militant groups, but it appears that only Breivik -- and perhaps unidentified associates -- was involved.

Officials pointed to Breivik's far-right views.

"I think it's appropriate to underline that politically motivated violence that Norway has seen in the modern age has come from the extreme rightist side," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.

Breivik's Facebook page was blocked, but a cached version describes a conservative Christian from Oslo.

The profile veers between references to lofty political philosophers and gory popular films, television shows and video games. The Facebook account appears to have been set up on July 17. The site lists no "friends" or social connections.

The profile lists interests including hunting, political and stock analysis, with tastes in music ranging from classical to trance, a hypnotic form of dance music.

Breivik had also set up a Twitter account recently, with a single post on July 17, a citation from 19th century thinker John Stuart Mill: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."

The Norwegian daily Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying Breivik became a right-wing extremist in his late 20s. It said he expressed strong nationalistic views in online debates and had been a strong opponent of multiculturalism.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and many world leaders, condemned the Norway attacks. "This tragedy strikes right at the heart of the soul of a peaceful people," she said.

Survivors described scenes of terror as the gunman stalked his victims, many of whom were confused by his police uniform.

"It was total chaos...I think several lost their lives as they tried to get over to the mainland," said Jorgen Benone.

"I saw people being shot. I tried to sit as quietly as possible. I was hiding behind some stones. I saw him once, just 20, 30 meters away from me. I thought 'I'm terrified for my life', I thought of all the people I love.

"I saw some boats but I wasn't sure if I could trust them. I didn't know who I could trust any more."

Hana, 16, told Norway's Aftenposten those on the youth camp had met in the main house to talk about the Oslo bombing.

"Suddenly we heard shots. First we thought it was nonsense. Then everyone started running," she said.

"I saw a policeman stand there with earplugs. He said 'I'd like to gather everyone'. Then he ran in and started shooting at people. We ran down towards the beach and began to swim."

Hana said the gunman fired at people in the water. Others hid in buildings or fled to the woods.

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