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At least 85 dead in Norway youth camp attack

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, hours after a bomb killed seven in Oslo.
Image: Youths are escorted away from campsite in Utoeya
Youths are escorted away from a camp site in Utoeya.Morten Edvardsen / Scanpix Norway / Reuters
/ Source: NBC, msnbc.com and news services

Norwegian police searched for more victims and a possible second gunman on Saturday after a suspected right-wing zealot killed at least 92 people in a shooting spree and bomb attack that have traumatized a once-placid country.

The 32-year-old Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik was arrested after Friday's massacre of teens on a tiny forested holiday island that was hosting the annual summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labor party.

Breivik was also charged for the bombing of Oslo's government district that killed seven people hours earlier.

If convicted on the terrorism charges, he would face a maximum of 21 years in jail, police said.

Breivik had belonged to an anti-immigration party and wrote blogs attacking multi-culturalism and Islam, but police said he had been unknown to them and that his Internet activity traced so far included no calls for violence.

A 1,500-page manifesto emerged that carried detailed planning for and direct references to an attack on the summer camp where most of the deaths occurred.

Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a police uniform, went on a prolonged shooting orgy on Utoya island northwest of Oslo, picking off his prey unchallenged as youngsters scattered in panic or jumped in the lake to swim for the mainland.

A police SWAT team eventually arrived from Oslo to seize Breivik after nearly 90 minutes of firing, acting police chief Sveinung Sponheim said at a news conference.

"We don't know yet" if he acted alone, Sponheim said, adding that Breivik had surrendered immediately and had confessed.

Death toll
Sponheim said 85 people were known to have died in the shooting and seven in the Oslo bomb blast. The overall death toll could reach 98 if some missing people proved to have died, he said.

Police gave no figure for the number wounded in Norway's worst violence since World War II.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, sharing the shocked mood in this normally safe, quiet country of 4.8 million, said: "A paradise island has been transformed into a hell."

An aerial view of Utoya Island, Norway taken Thursday, July 21, 2011. Police say they are sending anti-terror police to a youth camp outside Oslo after reports of a shooting there following the bomb blast at the government headquarters. The news site VG reported that a man dressed in a police uniform opened fire at the camp. It says several people were injured. Oslo police chief Anstein Gjengdal said anti-terror units were being sent to the camp at Utoya, outside the Norwegian capital. He had no other information on that incident, which came hours after a bomb blast outside the government headquarters killed at least two people and injured 15. White space at top right is part of the wing of the aircraft. (AP Photo/Mapaid, Lasse Tur) NORWAY OUTLasse Tur / Mapaid

On Saturday night, the prime minister toured damaged buildings in central Oslo and said that he could not rule out that more bodies might be inside.

"There are still people missing ... one cannot rule out anything. This is evil. This is pure evil," he said. A chunk of debris fell off a building as he stood in the street.

Norwegian NRK television showed blurred pictures taken from a helicopter of a man, apparently in police uniform, standing with his arm outstretched amid numerous victims, some prone on the rocky shore, others floating in the water.

"This lasted for hours," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference, describing the killings on the island northwest of Oslo where about 600 young people had gathered.

At the time of the massacre, hundreds of children were on the island, aged from 11 or 12 to 18 or 19.

The bloodbath 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."

U.S. President Barack Obama called Stoltenberg on Saturday to offer U.S. condolences over the killings and pledged assistance if needed.

The suspect, tall and blond, owned an organic farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which a supply firm said he had used to buy fertilizer — possibly to make the Oslo bomb.

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 Utoya, 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.

Home-grown
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.

Breivik's profile lists interests including hunting, political and stock analysis, with tastes in music ranging from classical to trance, a hypnotic form of dance music.

Debris is seen on the street after a powerful explosion rocked central Oslo July 22, 2011. A huge explosion damaged government buildings in central Oslo on Friday including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's office, injuring several people, a Reuters witness said. The blast blew out most windows on the 17-storey building housing Stoltenberg's office, as well as nearby ministries including the oil ministry, which was on fire. REUTERS/Holm Morten/Scanpix (NORWAY - Tags: CIVIL UNREST) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. AFGHANISTAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN AFGHANISTAN. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES INNORWAYScanpix Norway / X02351

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and many world leaders, condemned the Norway attacks. "This tragedy strikes right at the heart of the soul of a peaceful people," she said.

Stoltenberg flew by helicopter to a hotel in the nearby town of Sundvollen where many survivors were being counselled and interviewed by police. Relatives converged on the hotel to reunite with their loved ones or to identify their dead.

The nation looks to rally after a bombing and shooting spree leaves 77 people dead.

"A whole world is thinking of them," the prime minister said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Norwegian King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon also visited the hotel to comfort survivors and their families.

About 10 policemen guarded Breivik's registered address in a four-story red brick building in west Oslo.

Oslo was quiet but tense after Friday's mid-afternoon bombing which broke the windows of the prime minister's building and damaged the finance and oil ministry buildings.

The district attacked is the heart of power in Norway. But security is not tight in a country unused to such violence and better known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and mediating in conflicts, including the Middle East and Sri Lanka.