Norway / Oslo Attacked (Warning Graphic Photos)
The 32-year-old Norwegian man arrested for gunning down children on the holiday island of Utoya has been named locally as Anders Behring Breivik. Described as 6ft tall and blond, he is reported to have arrived on the island of Utoya and opened fire after beckoning several young people over in his native Norwegian tongue. Reports suggest he was also seen loitering around the site of the bomb blast in Oslo two hours before the island incident.
More than 30 are believed to have been killed – seven in Oslo and between 25 to 30 on Utoya Island, 50 miles north of the capital. Police have said the attacks do not appear to be linked to Islamist terrorism but they are linking the two incidents. Initially, however, it was not known what the motives were – whether the gunman had been radicalised and was part of a militant Muslim group waging Jihad or was alternatively trying to further a home-grown political cause.
The Oslo bomb blast was outside a government office, while the island of Utoya is reportedly owned by the Norwegian Labour Party. Teenagers on the Norwegian holiday island of Utoya had to ‘swim for their lives’ and hide in trees when the gunman fired indiscriminately at them. Around 700 had gathered on the island for a meeting of the youth wing of the ruling Labour party. Witnesses said the man in police uniform who opened fire beckoned several young people over before shooting at them. He told them to ‘come here’.
Other witnesses said they heard him saying: ‘This is just the beginning.’ A Twitter user going by the name zhalli1 posted a message on the website saying: ‘I’m safe. We’ve hidden in a tree. One of us is shot twice in the foot.’ Police stormtroopers landed on the island by helicopter as the shooting continued and sealed off the area but ambulances were unable to reach the scene immediately. Fredrik Walløe, a London-based Norwegian journalist, tweeted: ‘A Sea King helicopter carrying medics has reached the island, but can’t land because of continued gunfire.’ Alyssa Nilsen, a music journalist and photographer in Oslo, wrote on Twitter: ‘People are escaping the island by jumping in the water and swimming away. Anyone near Utoya with a boat, please help!’ One witness described the scene from the mainland. He wrote on Twitter: ‘There is a little war going on out there.’ Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who had been due to visit the island, told a Norwegian TV channel that the situation was critical.
He said: ‘We now have reports of a serious situation there – a critical situation on Utoya.’ Emilie Bersaas, 19, spoke from Utoya last night, from where she could still hear police and helicopters overheard. She said: ‘I’m at a building with the army. I ran here when I heard the shooting. I heard a lot of people running and screaming. I ran to the nearest building and hid under the desk.’ She said there was ‘a lot of shooting’ and she heard ‘screaming from the next room’. ‘The shooting came from all different directions,’ she added. ‘Somebody told me to go under the desk. And put mattresses and pillows on top so I felt kind of safe. It was terrifying.’ She said the shooting was very close to the building and hit it at one point. Andre Scheie told Norwegian broadcaster NRK he saw between 20 to 25 bodies at the youth camp where a gunman dressed in a police uniform opened fire. He said he saw bodies on the shore of the Utoya island where the youth wing of the Labour Party was holding a summer camp for hundreds of youths.
He said: ‘There are very many dead by the shore … there are about 20-25 dead.” He also said he saw dead people in the water. Emilie Bersaas, 19, told Sky News that when the shooting started people started running and screaming. She hid under her desk for two hours as her building was hit by gunfire. She said: ‘People are very shaken up as we do not know who is fine and who is not. There are a lot of people I do not know anything about. ‘It was terrifying – at one point, the shooting was very close to me and hit the building I was in. The people in the next room screamed loudly.’ Some people fled the attack by swimming away from the island, which is also owned by the Labour Party, and others locked themselves in buildings but reports emerged that explosives may have been set around the area. They were warned not to reveal their location on social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, for fear they could be the victims of future attempts. Victims of the first blast in Oslo were still being treated as news of the second incident filtered through. Mr Stoltenberg, who was advised by security officials not to reveal his location, told journalists: ‘There is a critical situation at Utoya and several ongoing ops as we speak. ‘Co-workers have lost their lives today… it’s frightening. That’s not how we want things in our country. ‘But it’s important that we don’t let ourselves be scared. Because the purpose of that kind of violence is to create fear.’
Also police were this afternoon were investigating reports of a suspicious package at broadcaster TV2 in the capital. At least 15 people were injured in the initial attack in Oslo. It is known that seven were being treated at Oslo University Hospital. The tangled wreckage of a car was seen outside one Government building with officers investigating whether it was responsible for the blast and carrying a fertiliser nitrate device. The attack occurred opposite the offices of the Norwegian prime minister whose windows were blown out by the force of the explosion. Dozens of victims lay injured amid the wreckage and many were carried away from the scene bleeding. All roads into the city centre have been closed, and security officials evacuated people from the area, fearing another blast. Fortunately, it was a public holiday and the offices were less busy than during a normal weekday. ‘It exploded – it must have been a bomb. People ran in panic and ran. I counted at least 10 injured people,’ said Kjersti Vedun, who was leaving the area. An NRK journalist, Ingunn Andersen, said the headquarters of tabloid newspaper VG had also been damaged. He told CNN: ‘Seeing the emergency response gives me that same feeling in my spine of being in someone’s crosshairs. ‘It rocked me out of bed. The building that sustained the explosion had a helipad on its roof and now has beams hanging from it.’ ‘Dust, smoke, people bleeding everywhere. I walked out and towards ground zero to see if there was anything to do.’
Nick Soubiea, an American-Swedish tourist in Oslo, was less than 100 yards from the explosion and said: ‘It was almost in slow motion, like a big wave that almost knocked us off our chairs. It was extremely frightening. ‘There were people running down the streets, people crying, everyone on their cell phones calling home.’ The statement of support came as diplomats sought to check whether any British nationals were caught up in the carnage. Mr Hague said: ‘I send my deepest condolences to all those who have lost relatives or been injured in today’s horrific bomb blast in Oslo.
‘We condemn all acts of terrorism. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Norway and all our international allies in the face of such atrocities. ‘We are committed to work tirelessly with them to combat the threat from terrorism in all its forms.’ Obama said the incidents were ‘a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring.’
Heide Bronke, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said Washington was monitoring the situation but did not have any word of U.S. casualties. The attack came just over a year after three men were arrested on suspicion of having links to Al Qaeda and planning to attack targets in Norway. Violence or the threat of it has already come to the other Nordic states: a botched bomb attack took place in the Swedish capital Stockholm last December and the bomber was killed. Denmark has received repeated threats after a newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in late 2005, angering Muslims worldwide.
The failed December attack in Stockholm was by a Muslim man who grew up in Sweden but said he had been angered by Sweden’s involvement in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan and the Prophet Mohammad cartoons. That attack was followed weeks later by the arrest in Denmark of five men for allegedly planning to attack the newspaper which first ran the Mohammad cartoons. In July 2010, Norwegian police arrested three men for an alleged plot to organise at least one attack on Norwegian targets and said they were linked to individuals investigated in the United States and Britain.
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