x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Death toll rises to 87 in Norway terror

Mass shooting and explosion in Norway kills at least 87; among deadliest day of terror in Europe since 2004.

Paramedics attend to victims after an explosion outside the government headquarters in the Norwegia capital Oslo on Friday.
Paramedics attend to victims after an explosion outside the government headquarters in the Norwegia capital Oslo on Friday.

OSLO, Norway // A Norwegian who dressed as a police officer to gun down summer campers killed at least 80 people at an island retreat, horrified police said early Saturday. It took investigators several hours to begin to realize the full scope of Friday's massacre, which followed an explosion in nearby Oslo that killed seven and that police say was set off by the same suspect.

The mass shootings are among the worst in history. With the blast outside the prime minister's office, they formed the deadliest day of terror in Western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings killed 191.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Saturday that he had spent many summers on the island of Utoya, which was hosting a youth retreat for his party.

Utoya is "my childhood paradise that yesterday was transformed into Hell," Mr Stoltenberg said at a news conference in the capital.

Police initially said about 10 were killed at the forested camp on the island, but some survivors said they thought the toll was much higher. Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday they had discovered many more victims.

"It's taken time to search the area. What we know now is that we can say that there are at least 80 killed at Utoya," Mr Maeland said. "It goes without saying that this gives dimensions to this incident that are exceptional."

Mr Maeland said the death toll could rise even more. He said others were severely wounded, but police didn't know how many were hurt.

The island is about 500 metres from one shore of Tyrifjorden lake, an oddly shaped body of water that is 25 kilometers at its longest and 12 kilometers at its widest.

A suspect in the shootings and the Oslo explosion was arrested. Though police did not release his name, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK identified him as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik and said police searched his Oslo apartment overnight. NRK and other Norwegian media posted pictures of the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian.

National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told NRK that the suspected gunman's Internet postings "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen."

A police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that "it seems like 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."

Mr Stoltenberg said Saturday morning that it was too early to comment on the gunman's motives.

(Associated PressP