Oslo, Norway: Utoya Island Shooting Suspect ID'd, Explosion Shatters Government Buildings
THE CANADIAN PRESS -- OSLO - A Norwegian gunman disguised as a police officer beckoned his victims closer before shooting them one by one, claiming at least 84 lives, in a horrific killing spree on an idyllic island teeming with youths that has left this peaceful Nordic nation in mourning.
The island tragedy Friday unfolded hours after a massive explosion ripped through a high-rise building housing the prime minister's office, killing seven people in a scene some likened to the aftermath of 9/11.
The same man — a blonde-blue eyed Norwegian with reported Christian fundamentalist, anti-Muslim views — is suspected in both attacks.
On the island of Utoya, panicked teens attending a Labour Party youth wing summer camp plunged into the water or played dead to avoid the assailant in the assault that may have lasted 30 minutes before a SWAT team arrived, police said.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the twin attacks made Friday the deadliest day in peacetime in Norway's history.
"This is out of comprehension. It's a nightmare. It's a nightmare for those who have been killed, for their mothers and fathers, family and friends," Stoltenberg told reporters Saturday. He said he would meet victims later in the day.
The toll in both attacks reached 91 Saturday, and police said that could still rise as they search the waters around the island for more bodies. Acting Police Chief Roger Andresen said he did not how many people were still missing. The Oslo University hospital said it has so far received 11 wounded from the bombing and 16 people from the camp shooting.
The carnage began Friday afternoon in Oslo, when a bomb rocked the heart of Norway. About two hours later, the shootings began at a retreat for ruling Labour Party's youth-wing, according to a police official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway's police.
The blast in Oslo, Norway's capital and the city where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, left a square covered in twisted metal, shattered glass and documents expelled from surrounding buildings.
The dust-fogged scene after the blast reminded one visitor from New York of Sept. 11.
Ian Dutton, who was in a nearby hotel, said people "just covered in rubble" were walking through "a fog of debris."
While survivors evacuated the buildings, including ones that house other government offices and Norway's leading newspaper, word came that someone had opened fire on an island about 35 kilometres northwest of Oslo.
Stoltenberg told reporters that he had spent many summers on Utoya — "my childhood paradise that yesterday was transformed into hell."
A SWAT team that had been put on alert after the bombing was dispatched to the island once the shooting began. Police official Johan Fredriksen said that means they may have taken 30 minutes to reach the island.
Survivors described a scene there of terror. Several people fled into the water to escape the rampage, and police said they were still searching the lake for bodies.
A 15-year-old camper named Elise who was on Utoya said she heard gunshots, but then saw a police officer and thought she was safe. Then he started shooting people right before her eyes.
"I saw many dead people," said Elise, whose father, Vidar Myhre, didn't want her to disclose her last name. "He first shot people on the island. Afterward he started shooting people in the water."
Elise said she hid behind the same rock that the killer was standing on. "I could hear his breathing from the top of the rock," she said.
She said it was impossible to say how many minutes passed while she was waiting for him to stop.
At a hotel in the village of Sundvollen, where survivors of the shooting were taken, 21-year-old Dana Berzingi wore pants stained with blood. He said the fake police officer ordered people to come closer, then pulled weapons and ammunition from a bag and started shooting.
Several victims "had pretended as if they were dead to survive," Berzingi said. But after shooting the victims with one gun, the gunman shot them again in the head with a shotgun, he said.
"I lost several friends," said Berzingi, who used the cellphone of one of those friends to call police.
Police arrested only one suspect and have said he is linked to both the shootings and the Oslo explosion. Though police did not release his name, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK identified him as 32-year-old 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik and said police searched his Oslo apartment overnight. NRK and other Norwegian media posted pictures of the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian. Faiq Barzingi, whose children survived the massacre, said his kids have identified the photo in media as the gunman.
Andresen, the acting police chief, said the suspect was talking to police.
"He is clear on the point that he wants to explain himself," he told reporters at a news conference.
He added that the suspect has posted on right-wing websites.
"We don't know more than what you (the media) have found on the Internet. That is that what has emerged from the websites, that it leans towards the right and that and is Christian fundamentalist," he said.
That information dovetailed with earlier reports that the attacks were not linked to international terrorists.
"It seems it's not Islamic-terror related," the official who asked to be anonymous said. "This seems like a madman's work."
The official said the attack "is probably more Norway's Oklahoma City than it is Norway's World Trade Center." Domestic terrorists carried out the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City, while foreign terrorists were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told NRK that the suspected gunman's Internet postings "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen."
Though the prime minister cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the gunman's motives, both attacks were in areas connected to the left-leaning Labor Party, which leads a coalition government. The youth camp, about 20 miles (35 kilometres) northwest of Oslo, is organized by the party's youth wing, and the prime minister had been scheduled to speak there Saturday.
Sponheim said a man was arrested in the shooting, and the suspect had been observed in Oslo before the explosion there. But he refused to confirm the suspect's identity as reported by Norwegian media.
Sponheim said the camp shooter "wore a sweater with a police sign on it. I can confirm that he wasn't a police employee and never has been."
Aerial images broadcast by Norway's TV2 showed members of a SWAT team dressed in black arriving at the island in boats and running up the dock. People who had stripped down to their underwear moved in the opposite direction, swimming away from the island toward the mainland, some using flotation devices.
The United States, European Union, NATO and the U.K., all quickly condemned the bombing, which Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague called "horrific" and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen deemed a "heinous act."
"It's a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring," President Barack Obama said.
Obama extended his condolences to Norway's people and offered U.S. assistance with the investigation. He said he remembered how warmly Norwegians treated him in Oslo when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said the United States knew of no links to terrorist groups and early indications were the attack was domestic. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was being handled by Norway.
Calling himself a crusader against a tide of Islam in a rambling 1,500-page online manifesto, the 32-year-old mass murderer wants the opportunity to explain actions he deemed 'atrocious, but necessary'.
Lawyer Geir Lippestad said his client had admitted to Friday's shootings at a Labour youth camp and a bomb that killed seven people in Oslo's government district, but that he denies any criminal guilt.
CNN says authorities report that the suspect said he acted alone. Norway's king held memorial services for those grieving victims of the attacks.
The man accused of killing at least 93 people in Norway has said he carried out the bombing and mass shooting, authorities said Sunday, as an ashen-faced and openly weeping King Harald V led the nation in mourning.
The suspect has not pleaded guilty, and said he acted alone with no accomplice, acting National Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim told reporters Sunday.
BreakingNews reports that the suspect was not out of ammo when he surrendered.
|@ BreakingNews : Police: Suspect in Norway attacks still hada lot of ammunition when he surrendered - AP|
Reuters reports that a police guard was supposed to be on the island when attacks occured:
|@ REUTERSFLASH : Norwegian police say a police guard had been due to be on island hit by attacks, but unsure where he was|
It took the police 90 minutes to respond to the massacre on Utoya island.
Police arrived at an island massacre about an hour and a half after a gunman first opened fire, slowed because they didn't have quick access to a helicopter and then couldn't find a boat to make their way to the scene just several hundred yards (meters) offshore. The assailant surrendered when police finally reached him, but 82 people died before that.
A few horrific first-person reports of the shooting on Utoya Island are emerging this evening.
Here, survivors describe the two hours of terror they endured.
They are running from the approaching gunman, his "POLICE" moniker crystal-clear to see from even middle distance.
"My first thought was: Why are the police shooting at us? What the hell?" she writes.
More than a dozen crowd into a dark corner of a camp building, and all lie down on the floor. She cries quietly – then sees her best friend from camp, a boy, through a window.
"I wondered if I should go out and bring him to me. I did not. I saw fear in his eyes," she writes.
And from the New York Times:
There was little shelter or chance for those caught back on the island. Witnesses told Norwegian news agencies that the shooter sprayed bullets into piles of dead bodies, apparently seeking those that were hiding among them. On Saturday night, the authorities knew that 85 had been killed, and still sought bodies in the water, or in an unchecked corner of Utoya.
“He seemed he was enjoying it” Magnus Stenseth, a youth leader, told the Norwegian newspaper VG. “He walked around the island as if he had absolute power.”
The man suspected of a gun and bomb attack in Norway has called his deeds atrocious yet necessary, his defense lawyer said on Saturday.
"He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary," defense lawyer Geir Lippestad told TV2 news.
Lippestad said his client had said he was willing to explain himself in a court hearing on Monday.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man charged in the bombing and shootings in Norway's capital and a nearby island Friday that left at least 92 people dead, has admitted to the crimes, his lawyer told Norwegian radio late Saturday.
Gier Lippestad, Mr. Breivik's lawyer, told Norwegian public radio NRK that Mr. Breivik admits to having killed 92 people on Friday and has told police of the circumstances.
Here is a photo from a now deleted YouTube video possibly uploaded by alleged shooter Anders Breivik in which he's pictured with an automatic weapon.
Norwegian journalist Ketil Stensrud has posted a link on his Twitter account where people can download the gunman's manifesto, in which, Stensrub tweets "he gives detailed account of planned attack."
Candles and flowers left to mourn the victims are placed near the site of the Oslo bombing.
Pope Benedict expressed sympathy Saturday for the victims and urged Norwegians to resist hatred and conflict.
A police official tells the AP that the bomb used in the attack was "some kind of Oklahoma City-type" device made of fertilizer and diesel fuel.
Norway's King Herald on the attacks: "I remain convinced that the belief in freedom is stronger than fear."
Al Jazeera reports: Norwegian police have not recommended raising the terrorism threat level.
Al Jazeera reports that police have charged 32-year-old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik with killing 92 people in Friday's attacks.
Norwegian journalist Ketil Stensrud tweets:
Norwegian police confirm that the Utøya gunman were massacring people for 1 hour and 35 minutes before special forces arrived.
The Telegraph reports that a mini-submarine will be used to search in the waters off the island for more victims.
The paper also quotes police as saying that they believe the attacks had been planned "for a long time."
The Telegraph reports that police say the shooting suspect
"has confessed that he's been on Utoya, that he's had access to weapons, and that he's fired rounds." He's being interrogated at Oslo Police Station, in central Oslo.
Police say based on the statements from witnesses, they think there may have been more than one gunman.
Politico's Mike Allen tweets: "imagine the human terror there, and no cavalry: OSLO (AP) - Norway police say they arrived at island 45 minutes after shooting began there."
@Reuters reports: Norway attacks: Police say shooting suspect immediately surrendered when told to do so.
Reuters reports that 92 people have been confirmed dead in the Norway attacks.
|@ AP : BREAKING: Police in Norway detain man outside hotel where prime minister was visiting. -RAS #breakingnews|