Gunman fired on Norway island for over an hour

Posted July 23, 2011, at 2:15 p.m.

OSLO, Norway — A gunman who opened fire on an island teeming with young people kept shooting for 1.5 hours before surrendering to a SWAT team, which arrived 40 minutes after they were called, police said Saturday.

Survivors of the shooting spree have described hiding and fleeing into the water to escape the gunman, but a police briefing Saturday detailed for the first time how long the terror lasted — and how long victims waited for help.

When the SWAT team arrived, the gunman, who had two firearms, surrendered, said Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim.

“There were problems with transport to Utoya” island, where the youth-wing of Norway’s Labor Party was holding a retreat, Sponheim said. “It was difficult to get a hold of boats, but that problem was solved when the SWAT team arrived.”

At least 85 people were killed on the island, but police said four or five people were still missing. Divers have been searching the waters around the island.

The attack followed a bombing at a government building in Oslo, where seven people were killed. Police are still digging through rubble there, and Sponheim said body parts remain in the building.

Police have not identified the suspect, but Norwegian national broadcaster NRK say he is 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik. Authorities have not identified a motive but have said he visited Christian fundamentalist websites and once belonged to the youth-wing of a rightist party.

Police said he is talking to them and has admitted to firing weapons on the island. It was not clear if he had confessed to anything else he is accused of. Police said he retained a lawyer, but the attorney did not want to be named.

“He has had a dialogue with the police the whole time, but he’s a very demanding suspect,” Sponheim said.

Norway’s royal family and prime minister led the nation in mourning, visiting grieving relatives of the scores of youth gunned down.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the twin attacks made Friday peacetime Norway’s deadliest day.

“This is beyond comprehension. It’s a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for those who have been killed, for their mothers and fathers, family and friends,” Stoltenberg told reporters earlier Saturday.

 

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