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Twin attacks rock Norway, at least 87 dead

Outside Oslo, a gunman attacks people at a youth camp, killing at least 80. According to media reports, a 32-year-old Norwegian man has been arrested. Earlier, a blast in the capital killed seven people and damaged government buildings.

July 22, 2011|By Henry Chu | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • Bodies are seen on the shoreline of Utoya island, near Oslo, where officials say a gunman killed at least 80 people. Witnesses said the gunman was wearing a police uniform, and was tall, light-haired and spoke fluent Norwegian.
Bodies are seen on the shoreline of Utoya island, near Oslo, where officials… (Associated Press )

Reporting from London — A horrific shooting rampage at a youth summer camp left at least 80 people dead as Norway reeled from apparently related terrorist attacks in a nation long known as the home of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition to the shooting at a youth camp attended by hundreds on the island of Utoya, a massive bomb exploded in downtown Oslo, killing seven and injuring dozens.

Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday they had discovered many more victims after initially reporting the death toll at 10, the Associated Press reported.

Maeland couldn't say how many people were injured in the shooting.

The summer camp on Utoya, about 19 miles from Oslo, was organized by the youth wing of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's Labor Party.

According to the Associated Press, a suspect in the shootings and the Oslo explosion was arrested. Though police did not release his name, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK identified him as 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.

National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told public broadcaster NRK that the suspected gunman's Internet postings "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but if that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen."

Earlier, speculation had swirled around both Islamic militant groups and domestic right-wing extremists. Al Qaeda previously has singled out Norway as a target, and a shadowy group affiliated with the terrorist network reportedly claimed responsibility, a statement that could not be verified.

But another police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that "it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway's police.

"It seems it's not Islamic-terror related," the official 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.

Friday's double attacks, which police said were linked, recalled the dramatic 2008 siege on a hotel and other sites in Mumbai, India, that raised international fear of coordinated, sophisticated attacks on "soft" targets unprepared for a large-scale assault.

The rampage on Utoya, a small, heavily wooded island not far from Oslo, was a particularly harsh blow. A youth convention of the ruling Labor Party, the biggest political event of the summer, was underway there. Hundreds of young people, some of them teenagers, were in attendance.

Authorities witnesses described the assailant as a man dressed in a police uniform. The suspect, a 32-year-old Norwegian, was arrested on Utoya. Police later found undetonated explosives on the island.

The prime minister's office was heavily damaged by the bomb blast in Oslo, which killed seven people. Norwegian news reports said that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was working at another location and was unharmed. In a nationally televised address, he urged his compatriots not to be overcome by fear.

But the shock and scars from the violence will probably run deep in the normally placid, close-knit Scandinavian nation of about 5 million people. Authorities closed Norway's borders shortly after the attacks.

"Norway will stand together in a time of crisis," Stoltenberg said.

Addressing the attackers, he said: "You will not destroy our democracy and our ideals for a better world.... No one will bomb us into silence; no one will shoot us into silence."

At the White House, President Obama sent his condolences to Oslo and called for stronger global cooperation to combat terrorism.

"It's a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring," said Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. "We'll provide any support we can to them as they investigate these occurrences."

Mattias Carlsson, a Swedish journalist, said he saw as many as 15 to 20 bodies on the shore and in the frigid waters around the island.

"Some have blood on their faces. There is clothing lying around at the shore, as if someone has tried to swim away," Carlsson said in a telephone interview. "There are four people and they are lying together as if they are hugging."

The shooting spree occurred not long after a bomb exploded in midafternoon in the center of Oslo. The location was near the prime minister's office and other government buildings, including the finance and oil ministries and the Supreme Court.

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