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Europe

Norwegian suspect 'acted alone' in killing spree

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-27

The suspect arrested in connection with twin attacks in Norway that left at least 93 dead claimed to have acted alone after admitting responsibility for the self-described “cruel” yet “necessary” acts, police said on Sunday.

AFP - The suspect in Norway's twin attacks that killed at least 93 and wounded 96 says he acted alone, police said Sunday, in a "cruel" but "necessary" slaughter planned over many months.

As Norway's king and prime minister joined mourners in an Oslo cathedral for the victims of the country's worst violence since World War II, police said they are still trying to establish whether there was "one or several" shooters in Friday's attack on a Labour Party youth meeting on Utoeya island, northwest of Oslo.

"During questioning, he said he acted alone," police commissioner Sveinung Sponheim said. "We will try to verify this through our inquiry." Some witness accounts said a second gunman had taken part.

Sponheim said that the attacks wounded 97 people, giving a toll for the injured for the first time.

According to the police, seven people were killed and 30 wounded in the initial bombing of government buildings, while 85 were killed and 67 wounded during the shooting.

"There are still people missing in the governmental quarter" targeted in the bombing shortly before the shooting, a police spokesman told AFP without saying how many. Emergency workers were searching the shattered buildings in downtown Oslo for bodies on Sunday.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, was arrested for allegedly shooting at least 85 people dead on the island and killing seven more in a car bomb explosion which ripped through central Oslo.

"He admitted responsibility," Behring Breivik's lawyer Geir Lippestad told Norwegian media. While there was no official confirmation of the man's identity, he was widely named by local media.

"He feels that it was cruel to have to carry out these acts but that, in his head, it was necessary," Lippestad said.

Oslo police spokeswoman Viola Bjelland told AFP on Sunday that the suspect was "cooperative."

King Harald V, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other ministers attended mass at Oslo cathedral on Sunday morning.

A rambling 1,500-page tract apparently written by Behring Breivik said he has been preparing the "martyrdom operation" since at least autumn 2009.

The Internet document -- part diary, part bomb-making manual and part political rant in which he details his Islamophobia -- explains how he set up front mining and farming businesses to prepare the attacks for which he was arrested on Friday.

"The reasoning for this decision is to create a credible cover in case I am arrested in regards to the purchase and smuggling of explosives or components to explosives -- fertiliser," says the tract. It was unclear Sunday when the document had been put on the Internet.

As harrowing testimony emerged from the summer camp where scores of youngsters were mown down, Norway was struggling to understand how a country famed as a beacon of peace could experience such bloodshed on its soil.

"Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime on this scale," Stoltenberg told journalists as police searched for more bodies on the idyllic Utoeya island near Oslo.

"Many of those who have died were friends. I know their parents and it happened at a place where I spent a long time as a young person... It was a paradise of my youth that has now been turned into hell."

The toll could rise further as the search continued for four or five people still missing from the island, aided by a mini-submarine and Red Cross scuba divers.

Blond-haired Behring Breivik described himself on his Facebook page as "conservative", "Christian", and interested in hunting and computer games like World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2, reports said.

He also described himself as director of Breivik Geofarm, an organic farm that may have given him access to chemicals used in the production of explosives.

Police spokesman Roger Andersen described the suspect as a "Christian fundamentalist", adding that his political opinions leaned "to the right".

The head of the populist right-wing Progress Party (FrP), Norway's second-biggest political party, confirmed Behring Breivik had been a member between 1999 and 2006 and for several years a leader in its youth movement.

He stopped paying his subscription before ending his membership, according to the party.

Anti-fascist monitors meanwhile said Behring Breivik was also a member of a Swedish neo-Nazi Internet forum named Nordisk.

The attacks on Friday afternoon were western Europe's deadliest since the 2004 Madrid bombings, carried out by Al-Qaeda.

Friday's attacks began with a car bomb which seared through landmark buildings including Stoltenberg's office and the finance ministry. It is thought that the car-bomber then caught a ferry to nearby Utoeya island wearing a police sweater.

On arrival, he claimed to be investigating the bomb attack and began opening fire with an automatic weapon. The shooting spree lasted for around 90 minutes before he surrendered to armed police arriving on the island.

Witnesses described scenes of horror among the more than 500 people attending the youth camp. Some who tried to swim to safety were even shot in the water.

Khamshajiny Gunaratnam, 23, said that people initially thought it was some kind of joke before she and her friends realised their lives were in danger.

"We ran and ran. The worst thing was when we found out the shooter was dressed as a policeman. Who could we trust then? If we called the police, would he be the guy (who) would come to our 'rescue'?," she wrote on her blog.

Stine Haheim, a Labour party lawmaker who was on the island, said the gunman had carried out his killings methodically.

"He was very calm. He was not running, he was moving slowly and shooting at every person he saw," she said.

US President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI led widespread international condemnation.

The Norwegian capital is a well-known symbol of international peace efforts and home to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Date created : 2011-07-24

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