Slow return to normal life in shocked Norway

Remembrance: a sea of floral tributes outside Oslo's cathedral

Norway was slowly getting back to business this week after the 22 July bomb blast that wrecked several government buildings in downtown Oslo and the subsequent massacre at a youth summer camp.

The past week has been characterised by national grief over the 76 people who were killed in an unprecedented murder spree by a 32-year-old Norwegian with extreme right-wing sympathies.

Squares and pavements in central Oslo have been turned into an ocean of flowers by people seeking to show respect for the dead and turn their backs on the violence that killed them.

The massive fertiliser bomb that rocked Oslo was placed in a van parked right between two government buildings, including the one housing the prime minister’s office. The blast blew out windows in a large area and could be heard as far as 20 kilometres away.

So far eight people have been confirmed dead in Oslo, and several more are injured. The two hardest hit buildings are still being searched.

After setting off the bomb in Oslo, Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted the attacks, drove nearly an hour to lake Tyrifjord.

Posing as a police officer, he was allowed on board the boat to Utoya island, where several hundred people were gathered at the annual summer camp of the youth organisation of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labour Party.

On the island, Breivik hunted down and killed 68 people using a handgun and a semi-automatic weapon.

According to terrified eyewitnesses, who were hiding in buildings and in crevices along the shore, he was cheering and whooping during the massacre. He was apprehended by police after about an hour.

Breivik cites resistance against “multiculturalism”, “cultural Marxism” and Islam as his reasons for the attacks.

He was particularly irate at former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who had visited Utoya only hours before he arrived.

In a 1500-page manifesto published on the internet, Breivik details several years of planning for the attacks. He also describes proposed terrorist attacks on other types of targets, including oil installations, tankers and refineries.

There is no information as to whether he ever tried to go through with any of those plans.

The document also contains several hundred pages of extreme right-wing and anti-Muslim political ramblings, some of which have been copied verbatim from a similar document by the US Unabomber.

The 32-year-old claims to have acted alone, but this has not yet been verified by the police.

Breivik, who was described as “probably insane” and “living in a bubble” by his lawyer, was remanded in custody for eight weeks at a hearing in Oslo on Monday.


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