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Attack, suspect draw parallels to Oklahoma City bombing

A Norwegian adds to a growing tribute for victims near the Domkirke church in central Oslo on Saturday. The death toll from the bombing and shooting attacks Friday topped 90.

Associated Press

A Norwegian adds to a growing tribute for victims near the Domkirke church in central Oslo on Saturday. The death toll from the bombing and shooting attacks Friday topped 90.

OSLO — With at least 92 dead and a suspect in custody, Norwegians trying to make sense of the bombing and shooting attacks here turned repeatedly Saturday to the one example that seemed to fit: the Oklahoma City bombing.

A quick assumption that Muslims were at fault proved to be erroneous. Norwegians now know that a 32-year-old Christian, who railed against multiculturalism, is the principal and perhaps only suspect in the killings that occurred Friday in Oslo and at an island nearby. His name is Anders Behring Breivik; police say he has admitted to the shootings.

Police have charged Breivik under Norway's terror law. He will be arraigned on Monday.

A Norwegian newspaper reported that he had recently bought a large quantity of fertilizer, which can be used to make bombs — as the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, showed in 1995.

According to Web postings he apparently wrote, Breivik has lived on the margins of Norway's extreme right wing, a movement that has been in decline.

The country of 41/2 million was plunged into grief Saturday, especially because more than 80 of the victims were teenagers attending a Labor Party camp on the island of Utoya. Oslo was hushed, even though thousands came out on the streets. As soft showers fell, the loudest sound was of workers sweeping up broken glass.

"This is still our city," said Knut Aafloey, a leader of the Norwegian Artists and Songwriters Association. "People want to be close to where it happened."

Soldiers from the King's Guard, in body armor and carrying automatic weapons, guarded the closed-off streets at the bomb site. That was a shocking sight to residents of a city that thinks of itself as home to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited with survivors of the island massacre and with families of the bereaved at a hotel on the mainland. "It's too early to say how this will change Norwegian society," he said. He hopes, Stoltenberg said, that Norway can maintain its open and democratic society. "Those who try to scare us shall not win."

The royal family also paid a visit. In the evening, Queen Sonja, along with her son, Crown Prince Haakon, and his family, arrived at the Domkirke, Oslo's Lutheran cathedral.

The preparation that must have gone into the bombing and the shootings was terrible to think about, said Inger Margrethe Eriksen, 71, as she stepped out of the Domkirke. "The buildings can be repaired, but the children . . . ," her voice trailed off.

Although the huge explosion was undoubtedly meant to kill on a large scale, it also turned out to be a diversion from — and a set-up for — the real slaughter to come on Utoya.

Simen Mortensen, a volunteer for the summer camp, was stationed on the mainland side of the ferry service to Utoya. He told the Verdens Gang newspaper that a man wearing a police uniform and a bulletproof vest pulled up in a silver vehicle. The man was also armed with a pistol and an automatic weapon with a telescopic lens.

"He gets out of the car and shows identification. Says he's been sent to check on security, that this is routine, in connection with the terrorist attack," Mortensen said. "Everything looks fine, and a boat is called to ferry him over to Utoya.

"After a few minutes, we hear shooting."

After Breivik's capture, police brought him ashore in a small boat. "He looked unaffected, quite cold, like it was a normal day," said Anders Nohre Berg, 34, who lives nearby. "I think a lot of people are happy it's just one crazy guy, not a terrorist group or al-Qaida or something like that."

"I thought immediately about Oklahoma City," said Ivar Dyb Kraglund, a senior researcher at Norway's Resistance Museum, as first Muslims and then a lone right-winger were blamed.

Sigrid Skeie Tjensvoll, who came out to see the damage in Oslo, said, "If Islamic people do something bad, you think, 'Oh, it's Muslims,' ''she said. "But if a white Protestant does something bad, you just think he's mad. That's something we need to think about."

Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

Attack, suspect draw parallels to Oklahoma City bombing 07/23/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 24, 2011 12:00am]

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