Norway massacre: A gunman dressed in police uniform opened fire at a youth camp of Norway's ruling political party on Friday, killing at least 85 people, hours after a bomb killed seven in the government district in the capital Oslo.
Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he did not want to speculate on the motives for the attacks. "Compared to other countries I wouldn't say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway. But we have had some groups, we have followed them before, and our police is aware that there are some right-wing groups," he told a news conference.
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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," he said at a news conference in the capital at which Storberget also appeared.
Oslo Police had at first announced 80 dead, but then confirmed that the death toll had risen to 84. Police chief Oystein Maeland told a news conference earlier that "we can't guarantee that won't increase somewhat" due to a number of severe injuries.
Maeland said the attack had reached "catastrophic dimensions."
Witnesses said the gunman, identified by police as a 32-year-old Norwegian, moved across the small, wooded Utoeya holiday island firing at random at young people gathered for a meeting of the youth group of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's ruling Labor party.
Norwegian television TV2 said the gunman, described as tall and blond, had links to right-wing extremism.
Earlier, the Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami group, a radical Islamic organization, claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, the group said the offensive was meant to be a revenge operation for Norway’s military role in Afghanistan as well as insults to Prophet Mohammad.
"I saw young people running around, jumping into the water," Kristine Melby, who lives across the narrow channel on the Norwegian mainland, told Al-Jazeera television. "We heard people screaming."
'They were so young'
Many sought shelter in buildings as shots echoed across the island, ran into the woods or tried to swim to safety.
"There was a lot of shooting ... We hid under a bed. It was very terrifying," a young woman at the camp told British Sky television.
It was the biggest attack in Western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191.
"I just saw people jumping into the water, about 50 people swimming toward 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 island, northwest of Oslo.
"They were so young, between 14 and 19 years old."
Boats searched for survivors into the night, searchlights sweeping the coast. Helicopters flew overhead.
‘People ran in panic’
Police arrested the gunman, who they believed was also linked to the bombing, and later found undetonated explosives on the island, to the northwest of Oslo.
The bomb, which shook the city center in mid-afternoon, blew out the windows of the prime minister's building and damaged the finance and oil ministry buildings. Stoltenberg was not in the building at the time.
"People ran in panic," said bystander Kjersti Vedun.
With police advising people to evacuate central Oslo, and some soldiers taking up positions on the streets, the usually sleepy capital was gripped by fear of fresh attacks. Streets were strewn with shattered masonry, glass and twisted steel.
"It is the most violent event to strike Norway since World War Two," said Geir Bekkevold, an opposition parliamentarian for the Christian Peoples Party.
"I have a message to the one who attacked us and those who were behind this," Prime Minister Stoltenberg said in a televised news conference. "No one will bomb us to silence, no one will shoot us to silence."
He declined to speculate on who had been involved.
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