Norway PM says attacker 'turned paradise into hell'

Stoltenberg says, "Not since WWII has our country seen a greater crime"; suspect behind attacks bought 6 tons of fertilizer, farm company says.

By REUTERS
July 23, 2011 10:24
4 minute read.
Norway's PM Jens Stoltenberg talks to reporters.

Jens Stoltenberg_311. (photo credit: Scanpix Scanpix / Reuters)

 
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OSLO - An assailant who was suspected to be behind a bombing in Olso that killed seven people, and who shot dead at least 85 people at a youth camp of Norway's ruling party turned a "youth paradise into a hell," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Saturday.

"Many of those who lost their lives were persons I know. I know the young people and I know their parents," he told a news conference.

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"And what hurts more is that this place where I have been every summer since 1979, and where I have experienced joy, commitment and security, has been hit by brutal violence - a youth paradise has been transformed into a hell."

"What happened at Utoeya is a national tragedy," he said of the small wooded holiday island that was hosting the annual camp for the Labor Party's youth wing. "Not since World War II has our country seen a greater crime."



According to a farm supply firm, the suspect behind the attacks, identified as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, bought 6 tons of fertilizer in May.



Some kinds of agricultural fertilizer have been used in the past to make explosives.

The suspect placed the order through his company, the supplier said.

"These are goods that were delivered on May 4," Oddny Estenstad, a spokeswoman at agricultural supply chain Felleskjoepet Agri, told Reuters, without giving the exact type of fertilizer purchased.

"It was 6 tons of fertilizer, which is a small, normal order for a standard agricultural producer. I do not know him or the company, except that it is a company that has contacted us in a normal manner and ordered fertilizer and had it delivered," she said.

During the news conference, Stoltenberg said he did not want to speculate on the motives of the attacks, but added: "Compared to other countries I wouldn't say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway. But we have had some groups, we have followed them before, and our police is aware that there are some right-wing groups".

"There have been some groups of that kind in Norway, but again I will not speculate. We will await the investigation from the police before we say anything about the case."

Stoltenberg's comments follow Friday's deadly attack in which Breivik,  dressed in police uniform, shot dead at least 84 people at a youth summer camp of Norway's ruling political party, hours after a bomb killed seven in the government district in the capital Oslo.

Witnesses said Breivik, who they believed was also linked to the bombing, moved across the small, wooded Utoeya holiday island on Friday firing at random as young people scattered in fear.

Norwegian television TV2 said Breivik was tall and blond and had links to right-wing extremism. Police said on Saturday the man had been charged for the bomb blast and the shooting.

Teenagers at the lakeside camp fled screaming in panic, many leaping into the water to save themselves, when the attacker began spraying them with gunfire, witnesses said.

"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 meters from Utoeya.

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

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

"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."

"We had all gathered in the main house to talk about what had happened in Oslo. Suddenly we heard shots. First we thought it was nonsense. Then everyone started running," one survivor, a 16-year-old called Hana, told Norway's Aftenposten.

"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.

Many sought shelter in buildings as shots echoed across the island that was hosting the annual camp for the youth wing of the Labor Party, the dominant force in politics since World War II. Others fled into the woods or tried to swim to safety.

Boats searched for survivors into the night, searchlights sweeping the coast. Rescue helicopters flew overhead.

Obama, Clinton condemn attacks

Home-grown right-wing militancy has generated occasional attacks elsewhere, notably in the United States, where Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb at a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.    

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

Clinton's comments come after US President Barack Obama on Friday extended his "personal condolences" to the people of Norway following the attacks.

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