The Norwegian police said they were questioning a right-wing Christian on Saturday over the twin attacks on a youth camp and the government headquarters that killed 98 people in Norway’s deadliest post-war tragedy.
As harrowing testimonies emerged from the holiday island where scores of youngsters were mown down by a gunman posing as a policeman, Norway’s premier said the country would emerge stronger from the “cruel act of violence”.
“Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime of this scale,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told journalists as police searched for more bodies on the idyllic Utoeya Island.
Their latest death toll from the island massacre stood at 91 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 Norwegian media as Anders Behring Breivik.
According to information, the suspect posted online, he is an “ethnic” Norwegian and a “Christian fundamentalist”, police spokesman Roger Andersen said, adding his political opinions leaned “to the right”.
Police commissioner Sveinung Sponheim confirmed that the suspect was a 32-year-old Norwegian who had posted anti-Muslim rhetoric online.
The attacks on Friday afternoon were Western Europe’s deadliest since the 2004 Madrid bombings.
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 lifted an advisory telling residents to stay home.
But in a sign of the population’s nervousness, police arrested one young man armed with a knife at a hotel outside Oslo where some of the survivors had gathered and Stoltenberg had just arrived for a visit.
According to the NRK broadcaster, the suspect claimed he was carrying the weapon “because he did not feel safe”.
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 after beckoning youngsters towards him.
Witnesses described scenes of panic and horror among the 560 people attending the youth camp. Some who tried to swim to safety were even shot in the water. Among the wounded was Adrian Pracon, who was shot in the left shoulder.
Speaking to Australia’s ABC network from the hospital, he said the scene on the island was like a “Nazi movie”.
“He was shooting people at close range. He stood 10 metres from me and began shooting at people in the water,” he said.
“When I saw him from the side yelling that he was about to kill us, he looked like he had walked right out of a Nazi movie or something.”
“He would either kick people to see if they were alive, or he just shot at them.”
Norwegian police said they feared there could also be explosives on the island. According to a spokeswoman for a farm inputs cooperative, the suspect bought six tonnes of fertiliser, which can be used to make bombs, in May.
“We sold him six tonnes of fertiliser which is a relatively standard order,” Oddny Estenstad told AFP. Stoltenberg had been due to give a speech on Saturday to the 560 people attending the youth camp on the island, organised by the ruling Labour party.
As he visited some of the survivors, the prime minister spoke of his own anguish at the massacre on an island to which he was a frequent visitor.
“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.
He said Norway must ensure that the attacks do not undermine the fundamental values of its society.
“We are an open society, a democratic society…we are a society where we have a very close relationship between politicians and the people.”
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”.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II also wrote to King Herald V of Norway to offer sympathy over “the dreadful atrocity”.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan, condemned the horrific terrorist attacks in Norway.
In separate messages to the Norwegian leadership, the king and the prime minister of Norway, President Zardari and the Prime Minister Gilani expressed solidarity with the Norwegians and offered condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragic incidents. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2011.
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Norway has no death penalty and he can only get a maximum prison sentence of 21 years. He should be out in the prime of his life -- a free man!
Then he will write a book and there will be a movie as well. And he will get rich.
@ Khan I agree with you. So many families have lost their loved ones in this bloodbath. I believe its wise to contribute some kind words to those mourning families who are struck by grief here. My sympathies to those mothers, sisters, brothers, and fathers and all relatives who lost their precious ones in this cruel attack. May the souls of those who died rest in peace. Amen
@Dr. Saleem Siddiqi: They believe that Pakistani peopleike to die that is why they do what they do.
People are universally troubled by immigration of people's professing/practising faith in a relion that is not compatible with the rest and is also non accommodating of others. There is hardly any thing in common whether attitudes, culture, etc. On top of that there is the culture of violence, lying, corrption, maddengly religeous and seeing religion in everything and complete intolerance of other people that their civil society accepts but complains when others reject them.
@M.Akthar: Look at the apathy of the West. Do they sympathize when Taaliban hit any part of Pakistan and kill hundred of persons. When scores of people are killed by US Drone attack - Do they express their protest and or sympathy. On the contrary, they take these incidence to defame Muslims all over the world.
So why should we. On the contrary, such mishaps which are really unfortunate, will keep them vigilant and will also create sense of sympath and ampathy for happening all over the world especially in Pakistan.
Dr. Saleem Siddiqi Johannesburg - South Africa
@Ali: Ooh and drone strikes against "terrorist sanctuaries" in Norway. I wonder whether the Norwegian right wing will retreat to their mountains and wage a guerilla war!
@Bangash: I object where is anti islam thing. India has biggest minority population of the world. The only country which gave maximum number of religions to the world. When you say Indians there are muslim Indians too. India is secular country. All religions are equal and religion is personal thing. Get out of Ziad hamid school.
May we all learn to live with peace,this clash of civilizations smells devastating.
I think NATO should deploy it's troops in Norway and restrict travel with Norway as security measures!! Scanners and physical checks for norweigan passengers sounds fair too!!
@anonymous: The 'silver lining'?! Is that a joke? There is no silver lining. THe fact that it involves HUMAN BEINGS is what matters. Muslim, Christian, whatever. Humans shouldn't kill humans, and esp. should not take the lives of the most innocent. It's disgusting no matter what religion or race.
The United States of America suffered this kind of deplorable impact from 911 and as well during the Columbine High School shooting incident and then there was the bombing in Oklahoma City of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. I feel so sad that this has happened to you in Norway. I want to encourage you to be of courageous and day by day life will get better. I am praying for you all and your country. You will come to know in time, this shock and devastation will be removed and the feeling of safety will return. Believe and be strong, Good times will return. -Sheree Victorian, Chicago, IL
Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old suspect of Norway attacks, recently set up a Twitter profile. He posted a single message: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests".
It seems that Breivik had mental sickness going on for quite some time, but he did not discussed the issue with any one, and instead, he planned to kill people through bomb and riffle attacks to enforced his belief that what he believe is equal to the force of 100 000 people who have only interests, but they do not believe.
Sad, psychos all around the globe.
Our prayers and thoughts are with the bereaved families. R.I.P. Please think of those innocent people who have died and how their families are suffering because of this criminal act instead of being sarcastic or doing useless discussions.
Indians are using this tragedy to push their anti-Islam agenda.
This menace will never end until religion is separate from the state.... No matter what religion it is... This madness will continue...
@Naz Ebr: See the link on my username. It is a documentary about NATO involvement in European bombing few decades back. Just like NATO agents bombed Europeans pretending to be Communists we are being bombed now by NATO terrorists pretenting to be Taliban. Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti was not mad when he came out in open about NATO activities.
General Gianadelio Maletti, commander of the counter-intelligence section of the Italian military intelligence service said according to Guardian:
...his men had discovered that a rightwing terrorist cell in the Venice region had been supplied with military explosives from Germany. Those explosives may have been obtained with the help of members of the US intelligence community, an indication that the Americans had gone beyond the infiltration and monitoring of extremist groups to instigating acts of violence...
@seppo: So you have got your own definition of 'Terrorism' ... lolz, not a surprise, this has got no resolve. He was a 'freedom fighter' for me ...
What kind of Doctor is Dr. Saleem Siddiqi who wont express regret on the killing! Hope he is not the Death Doctor who specializes in helping people who want to die.
@saeed: True. After 24hrs only BBC was reporting it as prime news. But no need to cry that is how they are, we have to live wuth it and cannot change thieir mindset. There is a religion and culture war going on and for the good. Only this will change Islam back to a tolerant and forward looking religion. So let us say thanks to all hindus and christians brothers and sisters. They indeed help os help ourself.
Maybe the ISI should start funding these christian extremists so that the westerners turn their attention to their own countries and stop waging war in our region.
Perhaps Norway, like others, would change its statement that The Mastermind of this Event were Muslims Fundamentalists....
Is this another way of Defaming Muslims/Islam...?
Yesterday an "analyst" talking to Richard Quest on CNN was pretty sure that these attacks bore resemblance to Mumbai attacks and the sophistication of the bombs and execution of the plan make these terrorists the graduates of bomb making facilities and militant training camps in the tribal areas of Pakistan. For many hours after the initial breaking of this news, I kept on hearing analysts pointing fingers at Pakistan until Mr. Anders Behring Breivik came along. I guess that is the problem with being a trouble-maker in the class that whenever the teacher senses a mischief, the first slap hits your face.
May Allah help us all and have mercy on our country. Ameen
This incidence proved that terrorists have no boundaries and religion, it will not be right to blame religion as the motives of such individuals and groups somewhat different. I am surprised by the fact that given the rights why these people go so low when the doors of dialogues are open at least in Europe, America and Scandinavian countries. The stun movies, false heroism, misuse of media, misuse of freedom and low attention to underdeveloped territories where minorities live might compel individuals to take such actions. The World today have never been so vulnerable to all sort of challenges when many countries have atomic weapons and fanatic groups are growing and challenging peace throughout the world.
shooters was nazi and maniac,no terrorist or something like that
Norway has accepted many asylum seekers so I can understand why some Norwegians are upset that foreigners are there and living on social welfare /khayrat. Norway does not have an immigration policy that allows free access for anyone who wants to go there so all the foreigner there are asylum seekers and not legal immigrants. They should not be forced to accept illegal migrants from all over the world. Yes this crazy man should not have killed people but you can see why right wing there is upset by all the foreign asylum people living there on welfare.
christian terrorist or just fundamentalist.??????
@Antebellum: You can make your simple minded analogy if an investigation determines: 1) any other Christian Fundamentalists helped him; 2) any other Christian fundamentalists knew what he was planning in advance and didn't alert the authorities; 3) any other Christian Fundamentalists make excuses for what he did by blaming the policies of some country or group; 4) any Christian Fundamentalists celebrate what he did, say by passing out sweets; 5) any other Christian Fundamentalists concoct some conspiracy to blame some other group even though all the evidence points to this guy. Lunatics come in all shapes and sizes. A lone, crazed gunman going on a killing spree can be motivated by anything, including religion. But there is only a single religion in today's world in which a not insignificant minority of adherents excuse, rationalize, irrationally deny, support, aid, celebrate and ultimately perpetrate the intentional murder of innocent men, women and children in the furtherance of religious goals and pursuant to religious doctrine. Can you guess which one it is?
its a bad thing which has happened on our planet! lets not be sarcastic here ppl...
@SKY: Get a life, bro. Did he say something about NATO? He said killing of innocent human beings is a Huge crime. He did not mention who the killers be.
Not to sound cold-hearted, because this is a very grave tragedy, but the silver lining here is that no Muslim was involved.
These must be Christian Taalibans - - - -
Regads Dr. Saleem Siddiqi Johannesburg - Soouth Africa
I have friends in Scandinavian countries and they told me how immigrants/students from outside (especially Muslims and esp PAK and Arabs) are creating social problems for the local people. How they are disturbing the Western values and he had warned me that either a Muslim fanatic will do something wrong or a local fanatic will do something wrong (since there are local right wing groups too). When outsiders (especially Muslims) go to WEST they want to retain their environment which they are used to in their own countries which is not 100% possible. Their inability to understand the dynamics of a pluralistic society makes them an alien in local society. And in same manner since the locals are occupied with their own MINDSET, they find the culture and "imported environment" strange and at times repulsive. Its very unfortunate that people around the world are living with intolerance instead of building bridges. People around the world need to be flexible in their faith and culture if they want to progress together. We usually dont hear similar incidents with Indians or other Asians but it has become a routine to hear this w.r.t Muslims so Muslims around the world need to open up their hearts and minds for the world especially when they are guests to that country.
W.r.t this particular incident the local country needs to do a through investigations into this incident, not just from a LEGAL point of view but from a SOCIAL point of view as well as such barbaric incidents will tarnish the image of the Europe which is a society with a BIG heart for the others. Let fanatics like this fellow not take them hostage like the Mullahz in Muslim world have done to their societies.
Europe is not new to these terrorism. Operation Gladio boys have awoken from slumber.
@d2412412: It is ok if NATO did it.
So Christian-Fundamentalist-Terrorist anyone? No takers..?
Be it Pakistan or Norway , killing of innocent human beings is a Huge crime . R.I.P
A horrendous act by a beast of a person.