Saturday, July 23, 2011

Death Toll Rises to 91 in Norway Attacks

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OSLO — The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a 32-year-old man, whom they identified as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections, over the bombing of a government center here and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together left at least 91 people dead.

The police said they did not know if the man, identified in the Norwegian press as Anders Behring Breivik, was part of a larger conspiracy. He is being questioned under the country’s terrorism laws and is cooperating with the investigation, they said.
“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andresen, said at a televised press conference, adding: “What we know is that he is right-wing and a Christian fundamentalist.” So far Mr. Breivik has not been linked to any anti-jihadist groups, he said.
Johan Fredriksen, chief of staff for the Oslo police, said officials “are not surprised” that the attacks had been the work of an ethnic Norwegian, a blond, blue-eyed man, saying “we think about scenarios.”
Soldiers were arriving in Oslo early Saturday to secure government buildings a day after the attacks, the deadliest on Norwegian soil since World War II.
The explosions in Oslo, from one or more bombs, turned the tidy Scandinavian capital into a scene reminiscent of terrorist attacks in Baghdad or Oklahoma City, panicking people and blowing out the windows of several government buildings, including one housing the office of the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, who was unharmed.
Even as the police locked down a large area of the city after the blasts, the suspect, dressed as a police officer, entered the youth camp on the island of Utoya, about 19 miles northwest of Oslo, a Norwegian security official said, and opened fire. “He said it was a routine check in connection with the terror attack in Oslo,” one witness told VG Nett, the Web site of a national newspaper.
The police said the suspect had used “a machine pistol” in the attack, but declined to provide further details.
Of the at least 84 people killed on the island, some were as young as 16, the police said on national television early Saturday. They said the death toll could rise further as they continue to search for bodies in the waters around the island.
Terrified youths jumped into the water to escape. “Kids have started to swim in a panic, and Utoya is far from the mainland,” said Bjorn Jarle Roberg-Larsen, a Labor Party member who spoke by phone with teenagers on the island, which has no bridge to the mainland. “Others are hiding. Those I spoke with don’t want to talk more. They’re scared to death.”
Many could not flee in time.
“He first shot people on the island,” a 15-year-old camper named Elise told The Associated Press. “Afterward he started shooting people in the water.”
Most of the campers were teenagers but there were also adults on the island, who may have been among the victims.
Mr. Breivik was captured “by the emergency forces,” police officials said Saturday, but declined to provide further detail about the circumstances of his capture.
“As for right now, one man has been apprehended, and that’s all I can say,” Mr. Andresen said.The acting police chief, Sveinung Sponheim, said the suspect’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.”
He said the suspect had also been seen in Oslo before the explosions. The police and other authorities declined to say what the suspect’s motivations might have been, but many speculated that the target was Mr. Stoltenberg’s liberal government.
“The police have every reason to believe there is a connection between the explosions and what happened at Utoya,” the police said. They said they later recovered explosives on the island.
Mr. Breivik had registered a farm-related business in Rena, in eastern Norway, which the authorities said allowed him to order a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, an ingredient that can be used to make explosives. Authorities were investigating whether the chemical may have been used in the bombing.

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