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July 22, 2011, the day hell descended on Norwegian island

19 july 2012, 12:04
0
Photo courtesy of indepebdence.ie
Photo courtesy of indepebdence.ie
Ordinarily peaceful Norway, known for tolerance and high living standards, was wrenched out of its serenity that Friday, July 22, 2011, when two deadly attacks from within plunged the nation into horror, AFP reports.

At 3:25 pm (1325 GMT), a massive blast shook the capital, jolting the country out of its drowsy, midsummer stupor.

A small rental truck carrying some 950 kilos (2,090 pounds) of explosives made from fertiliser exploded at the foot of the prime minister's office building in Oslo's government district.

Fortunately, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik had been held up in a traffic jam and was late in setting off the explosion: many employees had already left their offices, eager to get a head-start on their weekend.

But the blast, which was so powerful it blew out windows for several blocks and was heard kilometres/miles away, did kill eight people, mainly on their way in or out of the building, and injured dozens, nine of them seriously.

Government chief Jens Stoltenberg was working out of his official residence at the time and escaped from the attack unharmed.

As Breivik sped off in the escape car he had parked further away, he learned from a radio report that he had failed to bring down the government tower as he had hoped.

His aim, he has said, was to carry out such a spectacular attack that it would draw widespread attention to his "manifesto", a 1,500-page document detailing his anti-Muslim ideology, which he posted online shortly before setting off the bomb.

With the government building still standing, the right-wing extremist decided to set the second phase of his plan into action.

At around 5:15 pm, Breivik, disguised as a police officer and travelling on board the MS Thorbjoern ferry, arrived at Utoeya island, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Oslo, where the ruling Labour Party's youth wing was hosting its annual summer camp.

---- The shooting begins ---

Breivik's first victims were Monica Boesei, 45, who had helped run the camp for two decades and was known as "Mother Utoeya", and 51-year-old off-duty police officer Trond Berntsen.

Boesei had taken the ferry across the lake with the fake police officer, who had asked her to gather the camp security so he could brief them on the Oslo bombing.

Berntsen, the stepbrother of Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit who was handling security for the camp, had met them at the dock and had expressed suspicion before Breivik shot and killed the pair.

Armed with a Ruger rifle and a Glock pistol, both semi-automatic, he strode around the island looking for panicked young campers, trying to gain their confidence by claiming to be a police officer there to protect and evacuate them.

At the top of a small, steep hill, he entered the cafeteria, spraying it with bullets and leaving 13 bodies in his wake.

As he slowly followed the "love trail" that circles the island, he killed 10 more people, and mowed down 14 others near the island water pump.

The massacre lasted more than an hour: 189 shell casings were later found. Trapped on a 0.12 square-kilometre island, many of the mainly teenaged campers threw themselves into the icy lake, desperately trying to swim to safety.

Alerted by the sound of the shots, people at a nearby campsite tried to come to the rescue by boat, only to find themselves ducking bullets as well.

"You will all die, Marxists!" yelled the killer, who was high on an illegal but energising combination of ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin.

Twice, he called police, introducing himself as "Breivik. Commander. Involved in the anti-communist resistance against Islamisation", and announcing: "Mission accomplished and I will surrender".

But the calls were quickly cut off and, each time, he continued to methodically shoot at anyone he could spot, not hesitating to finish off the wounded.

Fifty-six of those killed were shot in the head, and many were shot numerous times, with as many as eight bullets pulled out of the body of an 18-year-old boy.

A special police unit that had made its way through congested Oslo traffic and then embarked on a small, undersized motor boat, which experienced engine failure, forcing them to commandeer two civilian boats to make it to the island, finally arrested Breivik at 6:34 pm.

Out of the around 600 people on Utoeya that day, 67 were shot to death and two died from falls and drowning while trying to escape from the killer. Thirty-three others were injured, many of them seriously.

Most of the victims were teenagers -- 56 of them were under the age of 20 and the youngest had just celebrated her 14th birthday five days earlier.

During his 10-week trial, which ended last month, Breivik confessed to carrying out the attacks but insisted they were necessary in his fight against multiculturalism and a "Muslim invasion" of Europe.

The 33-year-old right-wing extremist pleaded not guilty and asked to be acquitted. His verdict is scheduled to be announced on August 24.

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