Norwegian "Christian fundamentalist" arrested in connection with Oslo bombing, mass shooting (VIDEO)



Covered corpses are seen on the shore of the small, wooded island of Utoeya July 23, 2011, after a suspected right-wing Christian gunman in police uniform killed at least 84 people in a ferocious attack on a youth summer camp of Norway's ruling Labour party, and hours after a bomb killed seven in Oslo. (Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)


Fabrizio Bensch

A 32-year-old Norwegian man has been arrested in connection with two deadly attacks in Norway on Friday: a massive bombing in Oslo that killed 7, and a shooting rampage at an island youth camp near the capital that combined have left up to 92 people dead.

Police said Saturday that 85 people died when the gunmen opened fire indiscriminately at the ruling Labour Party's youth camp, the LA Times reported.

The police named the suspect as Anders Behring Breivik, 32, and described him as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. Oslo police spokeswoman Trine Dyngeland also said, "There are no concrete reports of a second gunman, although we're not excluding any possibilities".

"If it carried out by just one person, the attack would be the deadliest by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times," Al Jazeera reported. But the Norweigan national news agency is reporting that witnesses told police two people were involved in the shooting on Utoya island. The agency says police are looking into it.

(See GlobalPost's dispatch on eyewitness accounts of the massacre and analysis of alleged shooter.)

The alleged killer, dressed in a police uniform, gathered the youth claiming he had an announcement about the bombing in Oslo and then started shooting. He "would tell people to come over: 'It's OK, you're safe, we're coming to help you.' And then I saw about 20 people come toward him and he shot them at close range," an eyewitness told Reuters.

The shooting spree lasted an hour and a half as Norwegian police struggled to access the camp by boat, police officials said Saturday. Police also confirm a car bomb caused the explosion outside a government building in Oslo, the LA Times reported.

"It took police 40 minutes to get on the island after Anders Behring Breivik began shooting," Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim said at a news conference. He told reporters that police officials had responded as "quickly as possible" but there were problems getting boats to transport officials to Utoya Island. The suspect had two guns and after an hour and a half of shooting, surrendered to authorities.

Anders Behring Breivik was active in far-right politics, the Telegraph reported, and had held several positions in one of Norway's biggest parties that holds anti-immigration and anti-muslim views.

ABC News reports that the suspect in both the Oslo bombing and the shootings on Utoya island has been taken into custody. He is said to be Norwegian and a military veteran, "a kind of Norway version of Timothy McVeigh," Brian Ross of ABC News said.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the suspect, who was arrested on Utoya island, had probably acted alone, citing unidentified police officials in Norway:

A police official said the 32-year-old ethnic Norwegian suspect arrested at the camp on Utoya island 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."

The acting chief of police, Sveinung Sponheim, said the suspect didn't appear to have ties with Islamic extremists, the New York Times reported. The police and other authorities wouldn't say what the suspect’s motivations might have been, but there was speculation that the attacks were aimed at the prime minister's liberal government.

Breivik has links to right-wing extremism, the independent Norwegian television station TV2 reported, without identifying its sources, according to Reuters. The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported that police had stormed the suspect's home in Oslo, msnbc reported.


Police say seven people were killed and two badly wounded hours earlier when a powerful bomb exploded in the Norwegian capital on Friday, Reuters reported. The ABC was reporting two explosions, with at least one resulting from a "massive vehicle bomb," according to U.S. government sources on the scene. The mangled wreckage of a car was seen near one of the buildings, BBC reported.

The blast took place near the offices of the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg and the parliament. Stoltenberg was working at home Friday and was unharmed, the AP reports.

Shortly after the explosions, a man dressed as a police officer reportedly opened fire on a summer camp for youth members of the ruling Labor Party on the island of Utoya, about 25 miles from the city, wounding at least five, a Norwegian security official told the New York Times.

As many as 700 people were believed to be taking part in the summer camp, most of them teenagers aged between 14 and 18, according to Business Insider. Several people are severely injured and the death toll is expected to rise.

Labor spokesman Per Gunnar Dahl told the AP that a gunman dressed in a police uniform started shooting at youths assembled for the party's annual youth camp.

A man dressed as a policeman shot wildly into a crowd, "hitting many people," the VG, a daily newspaper reported on its website. Police said they believed the bombing and the shooting were connected. Norwegian media was reporting that the suspect had been arrested on the island.

A witness to the shootings on the island told a Norwegian TV station that he had seen at least 20 bodies, according to the Washington Post. Norwegian television broadcast images of bodies lying on the island, with people swimming away. Utoya is a third of a mile from shore, and there is no bridge linking it with the mainland.

Oslo police say that the gunman had previously been spotted in the capital prior to the explosions. "That news has many hoping that the attacks were the work of a lone terrorist and not a coordinated attack," according to a Slate liveblog of the unfolding Oslo attacks.

A police spokesman, Are Frykholm, told CNN that a man arrested on the island appeared to match the description of a person seen near the government buildings on Oslo shortly before the explosion there occurred.

According to the New York Times:

“The police have every reason to believe there is a connection between the explosions and what happened at Utoya,” the police said.

They also said they found explosives on Utoya island.

A Reuters witness said several army soldiers had taken up position around Oslo city center. With police advising people to evacuate central Oslo, apparently in fear of more attacks, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Norwegian television in a phone call that the situation was "very serious". He said that police had told him not to say where he was speaking from.

According to the Washington Post, Stoltenberg said:

“You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy.”

Prime Minister Stoltenberg had reportedly been due to attend the event. His office was one of those hit by one of several explosions hours earlier, although he was reportedly working from home.

Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang said it was a "terrible day" for Norwegians, CNN reports.

Several buildings in the capital were reportedly badly damaged, and many of the windows of the 17-story government tower that houses the prime minister's offices blown out. A reporter from the Norwegian broadcaster NRK told CNN that people were in the street bleeding. Emergency ferries rushed the injured to hospitals unaccustomed to such carnage on a large scale.

The death toll was expected to rise, the AP reports, quoting police spokesman Thor Langli as saying that there were dead people left in the buildings.

Photos and television footage showed a scene of devastation, with entire building facades destroyed and the surrounding street strewn with glass and debris.

All roads into the city center were closed immediately after the explosions, NRK reported, and security officials had evacuated people from the area, fearing another blast, according to the BBC.


Nick Soubiea, an American-Swedish tourist in Oslo, said he was less than 100 yards from the blast, which he described as deafening.

"It was almost in slow motion, like a big wave that almost knocked us off our chairs," he told CNN. "It was extremely frightening."

He said the streets were crowded with people trying to get away from the center of the city. "There are people running down the streets, people crying, everyone's on their cell phones calling home," he said.