Norwegian police have revealed the shocking scale of a shooting at a youth gathering on Utoya Island in Norway: at least 87 dead and dozens wounded. Police arrested one gunman, but some eyewitnesses say there were two men involved.
A 32-year-old Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, has been arrested in connection with the youth camp massacre. Police believe he might also be linked to the Oslo bombings and they have charged him with both attacks.
Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who held a press conference on Saturday morning, said it is possible that more than one person was involved in the bombing and shooting attacks.
TV2 has reported that a second man was arrested in the city of Sundsvoll, outside the hotel where the Prime Minister along with the Justice Secretary and Foreign Minister were visiting survivors and victims’ relatives. The channel stressed that it is far too early to determine if the detainee is in fact the second gunman. He was found to be carrying a knife in his pocket.
The man, who identified himself as Alexander Stavedal, was standing next to reporters when the police apprehended him. Before being taken away by the officers, the man said he was a member of the Labor Party’s youth wing and was carrying a knife because he felt unsafe, the Associated Press reports.
“A little war going on out there” – eyewitness
The shooting spree began when a gunman disguised as a police officer opened fire on Utoya Island just outside Oslo, where some 560 people, mostly between 15 and 25 years of age, were attending a Labor Party conference.
Reports say the attacker arrived at the annual youth summer camp of Norway’s ruling political party shortly after the Oslo bombing. He joined people who were discussing the latest news from Oslo and started shooting at them.
“We had all gathered in the main house to talk about what had happened in Oslo. Suddenly we heard shots. First we thought it was nonsense. Then everyone started running,” a 16-year-old survivor called Hana recalled, according to Reuters news agency.
Eye-witnesses spoke of people running in panic, some trying to dive into the water to escape the carnage when the attacker began spraying them with gunfire. He then began firing at people in the water.
“I saw people being shot. I tried to sit as quietly as possible. I was hiding behind some stones. I saw him once, just 20, 30 meters away from me,” Reuters quoted one of the survivors as saying.
An eyewitness who watched the shooting spree unfold from the mainland declared: “There is a little war going on out there,” the Guardian newspaper reported.
Many ran for their lives, some jumping into the water in an attempt to reach the mainland. The gunman could have been killing people for half an hour before SWAT teams arrived on the island, the Associated Press reports.
The killer wanted to make sure his victims were dead, coming up to the wounded and finishing them off, eyewitnesses said. Some also recall the gunman seemed to be in a hurry.
It is also thought that the killer in police uniform might have had an accomplice. According to some testimonies, the second man was wearing casual clothes and was tall and dark-haired. In general he was described as “a regular Norwegian,” reports the RIA Novosti news agency.
Law enforcement officials say the consequences of the attack are catastrophic: at least 87 lives lost, and dozens more wounded. The police have not ruled out the possibility that more victims might be found.
Locals who tried to rescue some of the injured claimed they saw dozens of bodies in the water.
Undetonated explosives were also found on the island. Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported that a bomb was found in a car on Utoya Island possibly belonging to the shooter.
The island is currently sealed off. The anti-terror police and rescuers are on the site and the rescue operation to find survivors is ongoing.
Some 30 people with serious injuries from the Oslo blast and Utoya shooting are being treated in Ulleval Hospital in Norway’s capital. Twenty of them are in a critical condition, according to the Aftenposten newspaper.