Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway mass shootings

Jul 24, 2011
85 die in Norway mass shootings

Killing spree at teen camp, termed nation's worst crime since WWII, follows Oslo bomb blast

Oslo - A Norwegian, dressed as a police officer, gunned down at least 85 people at an island retreat as teenagers at a lakeside summer camp fled screaming in panic as he sprayed them with bullets.

It followed an explosion in nearby Oslo that killed seven that police say was set off by the same suspect, named as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik.

The mass shootings were among the worst in history and formed the deadliest day of terror in Western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings killed 191.

Witnesses said the gunman moved across the small, wooded island of Utoeya in a lake north-west of Oslo last Friday, firing at young people who scattered in panic or tried to swim to safety.

Police detained the tall, blond suspect and charged him with the killing spree and the bombing of government buildings in Oslo.

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

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

'He describes himself as a Christian, leaning towards right-wing Christianity, on his Facebook page,' he said.

The suspect has admitted the shootings, police said.

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

Police also found undetonated explosives on the island.

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.

Mr Andresen, the deputy police chief, said the casualty toll could still rise.

'In Oslo, with the explosion and the impact it had, we are not yet sure if that number is final,' he said.

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

'I saw people being shot... I saw him once, just 20m, 30m away from me. I thought 'I'm terrified for my life', I thought of all the people I love,' said survivor Jorgen Benone.

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

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

Prime Minister Stoltenberg said he knew many of the victims personally.

'What happened at Utoeya is a national tragedy,' he said. 'Not since World War II has our country seen a greater crime.'

Norwegian media said suspect Breivik had set up a Twitter account a few days ago and posted a single message last Sunday saying: '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 of his as saying he became a right-wing extremist in his late 20s.

Security is not usually tight in Oslo, as the country is unused to such violence and better known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and mediating in conflicts, including in the Middle East and Sri Lanka.


[No. Beliefs not anchored in reality are dangerous. Whether the beliefs are loosely rooted in Christianity or Islam.]

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