Gunman held after twin terror attacks rock Norway

TERRORISTS left a trail of death and destruction across Norway yesterday when a gunman slaughtered children attending a political camp shortly after a massive bomb blew up government buildings in the capital Oslo, leaving at least 91 dead.

They were massacred in two horrifying attacks carried out within a couple of hours of each other in the worst terrorist outrage seen since the 7/7 London bombings.

Seven people died in the bomb blast and police said a further 84 were killed when an armed maniac went on the rampage on the Utoya island camp attended by 700 youths.

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Police chiefs last night said the two attacks were believed to be linked, as a Norwegian man arrested over the shooting spree, and believed to have links to right-wing organisations, had been earlier spotted in Oslo before the bomb blast.

Officials said the 32-year-old suspect did not appear to be linked to Islamist terrorism.

One said he appeared to have acted alone.

Last night, there were fears that the death toll would rise even higher when an eye witness claimed to have seen up to 25 bodies on the island.

A further 15 people were injured when the car bomb exploded near the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at 1:30 pm yesterday.

Then, at 3:30pm a gunman, dressed in police uniform, ran amok at the youth camp north west of Oslo run by Mr Stoltenberg's ruling Labour Party.

Terrified children fled screaming, scrambling for cover in bushes and some even trying to swim off the island to escape the man, who was firing his automatic weapon indiscriminately.

Mr Stoltenberg described the attacks as "bloody and cowardly".

"We are a small nation and a proud nation. No-one will bomb us to silence no-one will shoot us to silence," he said. "Norway has been shaken by evil."

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Police chiefs confirmed that undetonated explosives were found on the island.


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One eyewitness, Andre Scheie, said he saw bodies on the shore of Utoya island where the youth wing of the Labour Party was holding its summer camp. "There are very many dead by the shore. There are about 20-25 dead," said Mr Scheie, adding that he also saw bodies in the water.

Norwegian police arrested the gunman, who was said to be 6ft tall and Nordic-looking with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Police said that he had been seen in Oslo city centre earlier in the day.

Police believe the two incidents were linked. The theory that it was a twin attack was given added credibility by eye-witness reports, which said that the gunman identified himself as a police officer when he entered the camp.

"He said it was a routine check in connection with the terror attack in Oslo," one witness told VG Nett, the website of a Norwegian national newspaper.

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Last night, a report claimed that terror group Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, had issued a statement claiming responsibility.

The New York Times quoted Will McCants, an analyst at the CNA research institute, who translated a statement issued by the Helpers of the Global Jihad. But in the confusion that followed the attacks, it was unclear whether or not the statement was a hoax.

The message said the attack was a response to Norwegian forces' presence in Afghanistan and to unspecified insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

"We have warned since the Stockholm raid of more operations," the group said, according to the translation, apparently referring to the two bombs that were detonated in the Swedish capital in December last year. "What you see is only the beginning, and there is more to come," the statement said.

Norway's membership of Nato, and its coalition troops in Afghanistan, could have made the country a target for al-Qa'eda-influenced extremists. Although known as a peace-loving nation with little experience of terrorism, Norway was also one of several countries named by Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda, as potential targets for attack.

In 2006, Norwegian newspapers reprinted Danish cartoons that angered Muslims by lampooning Muhammad.

Terrorism experts also speculated that the involvement of Norwegian fighter jets in Libya may have led to a backlash from a country which has supported terrorism in the past. The theory that there is a Libyan connection was given some credence by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's recent pledge to target Nato countries.

Although Norway has not been the subject of large-scale terrorist attacks, there is also the possibility that the attacks were carried out by home-grown extremists.

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Recently there has been work to try and prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims in Oslo. Other possibilities include anarchists or far-right activists.

Muslim leaders in Norway swiftly condemned the attacks. "This is our homeland, this is my homeland; I condemn these attacks and the Islamic Council of Norway condemns these attacks, whoever is behind them," said Mehtab Afsar, secretary general of the Islamic Council of Norway.

If the bomb was an attempt to assassinate the prime minister, it was unsuccessful. Mr Stolenberg was working at home and was unharmed.

Later, Mr Stoltenberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK: "Co-workers have lost their lives today… it's frightening. That's not how we want things in our country. But it's important that we don't let ourselves be scared. Because the purpose of that kind of violence is to create fear."

Unlike Britain, with its experience of a 35-year IRA campaign, Norwegian public buildings are poorly defended against bomb blasts.

The lack of bomb-proof cladding resulted in the bomb doing enormous damage to Oslo city centre.

Eyewitnesses spoke of bleeding figures lying on pavements surrounded by shards of glass. Smoke from the fires started by the explosion drifted across the city as the emergency services fought to free office workers trapped in the rubble.

The square where the bomb exploded was covered in twisted metal and shattered glass, and carpeted in documents from the surrounding buildings, which house government offices.

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Most of the windows were shattered in the 20-floor high rise where the prime minister and his administration works.

Oslo police said the explosion was caused by "one or more" bombs. They later sealed off the nearby offices of broadcaster TV 2 after discovering a suspicious package.

"So far, police cannot say anything about the scope of the damage, aside from that there's been one or several explosions," a police statement read.Nearby, the office of Norwegian news agency NTB were hit by the blast and all employees evacuated.

Public broadcaster NRK showed video footage of a blackened car lying on its side amid the debris.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "My thoughts are with the wounded and those who have lost friends and family, and I know everyone in Britain will feel the same."

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