80 youths killed after bombing in Norway

OSLO, Norway

Norway's peace was shattered twice Friday when a bomb ripped open buildings in the heart of its government and a man dressed as a police officer gunned down at least 80 youths at a summer camp.

Hundreds of youths ran in terror at a camp on Utoya Island, where the ruling Labor Party was holding an annual conference for hundreds of young people. Some tried swimming to safety or ran into the woods and climbed trees as the gunman fired. The island, 20 miles northwest of Oslo, is a third of a mile from shore. No bridge links it to the mainland.

The shootings occurred after the bombing in Oslo, Norway's capital and the city where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. Seven people were killed in the blast, which left a square covered in twisted metal, shattered glass and documents expelled from surrounding buildings. The dust-fogged scene reminded one visitor from New York of Sept. 11.

Police linked one Norwegian to both attacks, which was this nation's worst violence since World War II.

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.

Breivik "is suspected of having some right-wing sympathies," said Police Directorate spokesman Runar Kvernen. "The police are now working with the theory that he is involved in both of the tragedies today. He was observed, the same person, the same outfit, at both scenes."

"Whether he had helpers, that we don't know," he said. "He is the main track for the police right now."

National police Chief Sveinung Sponheim told public broadcaster NRK that Breivik'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."

Police later found undetonated explosives on the island.

The killings there were the worst mass shootings since April 16, 2007, when Seung-Hui Cho, 23, killed 32 people and himself on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.

It took investigators several hours to begin the realize the full scope of the massacre on Utoya Island. Police initially said about 10 were killed at the forested camp, but some survivors said they thought the toll was much higher. Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday they had discovered many more victims.

"It's taken time to search the area. What we know now is that we can say that there are at least 80 killed at Utoya," Maeland said. "It goes without saying that this gives dimensions to this incident that are exceptional."

Maeland said the death toll could rise even more. He said others were severely injured, but police didn't know how many were hurt.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was rushed to a secret location in the aftermath of the blast but spoke to reporters late Friday. He had been scheduled to speak at the camp today .

"Norway will stand together in a time of crisis," Stoltenberg said. "I have a message to whoever attacked us. It's a message from all of Norway. 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."

But many residents of Oslo said the attacks would probably have a deep impact. For years, the most fortified building in town has been the U.S. Embassy — the subject of eye-rolling from those who thought the security measures were unnecessary.

"This is one of those events that will change everything," Christopher Wright, 35, of Oslo, said by telephone. He was at a bakery a thousand feet from the government buildings when the explosion happened.

Several analysts said a coordinated attack of such a caliber would have required sophistication and preparation.

Ian Dutton, who was in a hotel near the bombing, said people "just covered in rubble" were walking through "a fog of debris."

"It wasn't any sort of a panic," he said, "It was really just people in disbelief and shock, especially in a such as safe and open country as Norway. You don't even think something like that is possible."

Police said seven people died in the Oslo blast. Rescuers were to search to blast wreckage through the night for more victims.

Most of the windows in the 20-floor high-rise where Stoltenberg and his administration work were shattered. Other damaged buildings house government offices and the headquarters of some of Norway's leading newspapers.

Stoltenberg, who was home when the blast occurred and was not harmed, decried he called "a cowardly attack on young innocent civilians."

The attacks formed the deadliest day of terror in Western Europe since the 2005 London bombings, which killed 52 people.

The United States, European Union, NATO and the Britain, 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.

Nobel Peace Prize chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said it appeared the camp attack "was intended to hurt young citizens who actively engage in our democratic and political society. But we must not be intimidated. We need to work for freedom and democracy every day."

Information from the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times was used in this report

About Norway

Size: Slightly larger than New Mexico

Population: 4,691,849; 119th largest in the world

Government: constitutional monarchy

Prime minister: Jens Stoltenberg, since Oct. 17, 2005

Background: Joined NATO in 1949; in 1994, rejected joining the European Union

Source: CIA Factbook

. fast facts

About Norway

Size: Slightly larger than New Mexico

Population: 4,691,849; 119th largest in the world

Government: constitutional monarchy

Prime minister: Jens Stoltenberg, since Oct. 17, 2005

Background: Joined NATO in 1949; in 1994, rejected joining the European Union

Source: CIA Factbook

80 youths killed after bombing in Norway 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 1:22am]

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