The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a man they identified as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian in connection with the bombing of a government building in central Oslo and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together killed at least 92 people.
As stunned Norwegians grappled with the deadliest attack in the country since World War II and a shocking case of homegrown terrorism, a portrait began to emerge of the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, 32. He was described as a religious, gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threat of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration to the cultural and patriotic values of his country.
“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andresen, said at a televised news conference. “What we know is that he is right wing and a Christian fundamentalist.”
The horror of the twin strikes on the government building and a political summer camp on Utoya Island, a remarkably meticulous attack on Norway’s current and future political elite, also came into focus on Saturday. Interviews with witnesses painted a picture of 90 minutes of hell that left at least 85 people dead, some as young as 16.
As soon as the shooting started, they said, people panicked, running in all directions, tumbling down the island’s rocky hill in an attempt to reach the sea. Even after many made it into the water, the gunman calmly and methodically shot at those who were swimming.
“People right behind me were shot,” said Helen Andreassen, 21, a political adviser for the Labor Party’s youth wing, which runs the camp each year. “I heard shots right behind me. He was standing just by the water, using his rifle, just taking his time, aiming and shooting. It was a slaughter of young children.”
Wearing a police uniform, the gunman at one point emerged from the forest and persuaded several youths who had sought refuge on the shore to come to him, said Stine Renate Haheim, 27, a Labor Party member of Parliament, who was also among those hiding.
Then he opened fire.