Norway twin attacks toll mounts to 87

2011-07-23 08:04

Twin shooting and bomb attacks left at least 87 dead in western Europe’s deadliest carnage since the 2004 Madrid bombings when a Norwegian gunman opened fire at a youth camp and a bomb tore through central Oslo.

The suspect was a 32-year-old Norwegian who posted anti-Muslim rhetoric online, police commissioner Sveinung Sponheim told the NRK television channel. He added: “It’s too early to say if this was a motive behind the act.”

Norwegian media named him as Anders Behring Breivik, but police would not confirm this. They voiced fears that the toll could rise as they searched for victims of the shootings at a summer school meeting organised by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s ruling Labour Party on Utoeya, an island outside the capital.

Security was tightened across potential target sites in the capital, police said on Saturday, but they lifted an advisory that had urged residents to stay home. “We have confirmation that at least 80 people are dead. We do not exclude a higher toll,” police spokesman Are Frykholm said.

Police confirmed that seven people were killed when a powerful bomb ripped through central Oslo, where the prime minister’s office and several government buildings are located and nine were critically injured.

According to the TV2 channel, the arrested suspect has links to right-wing extremists and possessed two weapons registered in his name.

Other Norwegian media reported that he described himself on his Facebook page as “conservative and Christian” and interested in hunting and computer games like World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2.

Prime Minister Stoltenberg said Norway, one of Europe’s most peaceful countries, would not be intimidated. “The message to whoever attacked us, the message from all of Norway is that you will not destroy us, you will not destroy our democracy and our ideals for a better world.”

Western leaders denounced the attacks and vowed solidarity with NATO member Norway, which has forces in Afghanistan and is participating in air strikes in Libya.

Stoltenberg had been due to give a speech on Saturday to the 560 people attending the youth camp on the island.

Witnesses described scenes of panic and horror after the gunman, who police said was wearing a police uniform but had never worked for the police force, opened fire on the youth gathering.

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