SUNDVOLLEN, Norway, (Reuters) – Norwegian police searched for more victims today after a suspected right-wing zealot killed at least 92 people in a shooting spree and bomb attack that have traumatised a once-placid country.
The 32-year-old Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik was arrested after Friday’s massacre of young people on a tiny forested holiday island that was hosting the annual summer camp for the youth wing of Norway’s ruling Labour party.
Breivik was also charged with the bombing of Oslo’s government district that killed seven people hours earlier.
Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a police uniform, went on a prolonged shooting orgy on Utoeya island northwest of Oslo, picking off his prey unchallenged as youngsters scattered in panic or jumped in the lake to swim for the mainland.
“I just saw people jumping into the water, about 50 people swimming towards the shore. People were crying, shaking, they were terrified,” said Anita Lien, 42, who lives by Tyrifjord lake, a few hundred metres (yards) from Utoeya.
“They were so young, between 14 and 19 years old.”
Police put the death toll at 85, but did not say how many people had been wounded in the shooting.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, capturing the shock this normally quiet nation of 4.8 million is experiencing, said: “A paradise island has been transformed into a hell.”
Deputy Police Chief Roger Andresen would not speculate on the motives for what was believed to be the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times.
Police combed the island and the lake, even using a mini-submarine to search the water, police inspector Bjoerne Erik Sem-Jacobsen told Reuters. “We don’t know how many people were on the island, therefore we have to search further.”
They were also checking media reports that some witnesses believed Breivik had an accomplice. “There are no concrete reports of a second gunman, although we’re not excluding any possibilities,” said Oslo police spokeswoman Trine Dyngeland.
The suspect, tall and blond, owned an organic farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which a supply firm said he had used to buy fertiliser — possibly to make the Oslo bomb.
“These are goods that were delivered on May 4,” Oddny Estenstad, a spokeswoman at farm supply chain Felleskjoepet Agri, told Reuters. “It was 6 tonnes of fertiliser, which is a small, normal order for a standard agricultural producer.”
It was not clear if Breivik, a gun club member according to local media, had more than one weapon or whether he had stocked ammunition on Utoeya, where police found explosives.
Initial speculation after the Oslo blast had focused on Islamist militant groups, but it appears that only Breivik — and perhaps unidentified associates — was involved. Officials pointed to Breivik’s far-right views.
“I think it’s appropriate to underline that politically motivated violence that Norway has seen in the modern age has come from the extreme rightist side,” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.
Home-grown anti-government militants have struck elsewhere in the past, notably in the United States, where Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Breivik’s Facebook page was blocked, but a cached version describes a conservative Christian from Oslo.
The profile veers between references to lofty political philosophers and gory popular films, television shows and video games. The Facebook account appears to have been set up on July 17. The site lists no “friends” or social connections.
The profile lists interests including hunting, political and stock analysis, with tastes in music ranging from classical to trance, a hypnotic form of dance music.
Breivik had also set up a Twitter account recently, with a single post on July 17, a citation from 19th century thinker John Stuart Mill: “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.”
The Norwegian daily Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying Breivik became a right-wing extremist in his late 20s. It said he expressed strong nationalistic views in online debates and had been a strong opponent of multi-culturalism.