Oslo: Police on Saturday questioned a blond 32-year-old suspect over twin attacks on a youth camp and the government headquarters that killed at least 91 people in Norway's deadliest tragedy since World War II.
   
As harrowing testimony emerged from the holiday island where scores of youngsters were mown down by a gunman dressed as a policeman, Norway's premier said the country would emerge stronger from the "cruel act of violence".
   
"Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime on this scale," Jens Stoltenberg told journalists in an early morning press conference as police searched for more bodies on the idyllic Utoeya Island.

While there was no official confirmation of the suspect's identity, he was widely named by the local media as Anders Behring Breivik.
   
Police commissioner Sveinung Sponheim confirmed that the suspect was a 32-year-old Norwegian who had posted anti-Muslim rhetoric online.
   
According to the TV2 channel, the arrested suspect has links to right-wing extremists and possessed two weapons registered in his name.
   
Other Norwegian media reported that he described himself on his Facebook page as "conservative", "Christian", and interested in hunting and computer games like World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2.
   
The attacks on Friday afternoon were Western Europe's deadliest carnage since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

While there had been initial fears they might have been an act of revenge over Norway's participation in the campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya, the focus shifted when it emerged the suspect was a native Norwegian. Speaking alongside the Prime Minister, Justice Minister Knut Storberget said there was no reason to raise the threat level.
   
Security was tightened across potential target sites in the capital, but police lifted an advisory that had urged residents to stay home.
   
Seven of the victims were killed in a massive explosion which ripped through government buildings, including Stoltenberg's office and the finance ministry, in downtown
Oslo.
   
But it is thought that the bomber then caught a ferry to nearby Utoeya wearing a police uniform.

According to witness testimony, he claimed to be investigating the bomb attack and began opening fire with an automatic weapon after beckoning youngsters towards him.
   
Witnesses described scenes of panic and horror among the 560 people attending the youth camp. Some who tried to swin to safety were even shot in the water, according to witnesses.
   
Among the wounded was Adrian Pracon, who was shot in the left shoulder as the gunman opened fire.

Speaking to Australia's ABC network from hospital, he said the scene on the island was like a "Nazi movie".

"He was shooting people at close range and starting to shoot at us. He stood first 10 metres from me and shooting at people in the water," he said.
   
"He had an M16, it did look like a machine gun. When I saw him from the side yelling that he was about to kill us, he looked like he was taken from a Nazi movie or something. "He started shooting at these people, so I laid down and acted as if I was dead. He stood maybe two metres away from me. I could hear him breathing. I could feel the heat of the machine gun.
   
"He tried everyone, he kicked them to see if they were alive, or he just shot them.
   
Another young survivor, Jorgen Benone, said: "People were hiding behind stones. I saw people being shot... I felt it was best to stay quiet, not to run into the open.
   
"I saw (the gunman) once just 20 to 30 metres away from me," Benone said, adding that he then swam to safety and was rescued by a boat.
   
Norwegian police said they feared there could also be explosives on the island and officers were combing the island. Their updated death toll on the island released on Saturday morning stood at 84.
   
Stoltenberg had been due to give a speech on Saturday to the 560 people attending the youth camp on the island, organised by the ruling Labour party.
   
"Utoeya is a place I have visited every summer since 1974. I have known joy, commitment and safety there. Now the place has been through brutal violence and a paradise for youth has been turned into hell in a few hours," he said.
   
The prime minister said Norway, one of Europe's most peaceful countries, would not be intimidated.

"People have lived through a nightmare that very few of us can imagine," he said. "The coming days will show who is responsible and what kind of punishment they will get.
   
"The message to whoever attacked us, the message from all of Norway is that you will not destroy us, you will not destroy our democracy and our ideals for a better world."

Gunman's background puzzles police in Norway

The 32-year-old suspected of massacring at least 80 young people at a summer camp and setting off a bomb in downtown Oslo that killed at least seven is a mystery to investigators: a right-winger with anti-Muslim views but no known links to hardcore extremists.
   
"He just came out of nowhere," a police official said.

Public broadcaster NRK and several other Norwegian media identified the suspected attacker as Anders Behring Breivik, a blond and blue-eyed Norwegian who expressed right-wing and anti-Muslim views on the Internet.
 
Norwegian news agency NTB said Breivik legally owned several firearms and belonged to a gun club. He ran agricultural firm growing vegetables, an enterprise that could have helped him secure large amounts of fertiliser, a potential ingredient in bombs.
   
But he didn't belong to any known factions in Norway's small and splintered extreme right movement, and had no criminal record except for some minor offences, the police official told the agency.
   
"He hasn't been on our radar, which he would have been if was active in the neo-Nazi groups in Norway," he said. "But he still could be inspired by their ideology."
   
He spoke on condition of anonymity because those details had not been officially released by police. He declined to name the suspect.
   
Neo-Nazi groups carried out a series of murders and robberies in Scandinavia in the 1990s but have since kept a low profile. "They have a lack of leadership. We have pretty much control of those groups," the police official said.

Breivik's registered address is at a four-story apartment building in western Oslo. A police car was parked outside the brick building early Saturday, with officers protecting the entrance.
   
National police Chief Sveinung Sponheim told public broadcaster NRK that the gunman's Internet postings "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen."
   
A Facebook page under Breivik's name was taken down late yesterday. A Twitter account under his name had only one Tweet, on July 17, loosely citing English philosopher John Stuart Mill: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."
   
Police where interrogating the man, first at the scene of the shooting, and later at a police station in Oslo.
   
"It's strange that he didn't kill himself, like the guys that have carried out school shootings," the police official told the agency.

"It's a good thing that he didn't because then we might get some answers pointing out his motivation."

He said the attacks appeared to be the work of a lone madman, without links to any international terrorist networks.
   
The attack "is probably more Norway's Oklahoma City than it is Norway's World Trade Center," he said referring to the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City by domestic terrorists.

Obama calls for anti-terror cooperation
  
US President Barack Obama offered condolences to Norway after deadly twin attacks and urged countries around the world to step up cooperation in anti-terrorism efforts.
  
Speaking during a meeting with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, Obama called the attacks "a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring.
  
"We have to work cooperatively together on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks," Obama said.
  
Obama, who visited Oslo in 2009 to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, fondly recalled his welcome in the NATO ally and said he "wanted to personally extend my condolences to the people of Norway."
  
"Our hearts go out to them and we will provide any support we can to them," said Obama, who earlier received a briefing on the attacks from his top anti-terrorism adviser John Brennan.
      
State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke Fulton called the attacks "despicable" and said the embassy in Oslo has urged all US citizens to avoid the center of the Norwegian capital.
  
"The US has reached out to the Norwegian authorities to offer assistance, but there have been no specific requests from the Norwegians thus far," said Fulton.

UN Chief condemns attacks  

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attacks in Norway.
   
"The Secretary-General was shocked to learn about the large explosion in central Oslo and the shooting that took place in Utoya," said a statement from his office. "He condemns this violence and expresses his condolences to the Government of Norway and the families of the victims," it said.
       
Norway has around 500 troops in Afghanistan


Russia offers condolences

Russian leaders on Saturday expressed shock and dismay at the terror strikes that have killed over 90 people in Norway in their separate messages to the country's King Harald V and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

According to Kremlin press office, President Dmitry Medvedev requested them to convey his condolences and sympathies to the affected families.

In his message to his Norwegian counterpart Stoltenberg, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin dubbed the twin attack as a "barbarous crime", "senseless act of violence".

Putin also offered all help and assistance to Stoltenberg, Russian Prime Minister's office said.

Expressing his condolences, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he was shocked and disturbed at the twin attacks in a problem-free prosperous state like Norway.

"Probably, the world developments, tense situation in many global issues in someway also influence the problem-free prosperous countries," Gorbachev was quoted as saying by Interfax.           

(JPN/Agencies)