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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Horrific details continue to emerge

Descriptions of the sheer horror of Friday’s terrorist attacks both in Oslo and on the island of Utøya continue to emerge this week, including a report of how an unarmed security guard on the island was among the first victims of lone gunman Anders Behring Breivik. The guard was an off-duty policeman, and the step-brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

Newspaper Dagbladet reported Monday that Trond Berntsen, age 51, was working “private overtime” as a security guard on Utøya, as he’d done during several previous summers. His 10-year-old son was at the summer camp of the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth organization as well, and told a crisis team dealing with survivors of the massacre a harrowing tale of how his father tried to protect him  when the gunman started shooting.

Waiting at the dock
Berntsen was waiting at the dock when the gunman, dressed in a false police uniform and heavily armed, arrived on the island on the ferry that shuttled campers back and forth from the mainland. Camp leaders reportedly had been called and told that a representative of the police would be arriving to update them on the bombing that had occurred in Oslo earlier that afternoon. Instead the gunman, parading as the policeman, had other intentions.

Police in Norway are generally unarmed and Berntsen, who had taken on the extra job as a private security guard and was not in police service on Utøya, was unarmed as well. But his son said he attempted to stop the gunman when he started firing, only to be shot and killed himself.

Berntsen thus became one of the first of at least 86 victims to be killed by Breivik, now in police custody. Berntsen was the son of the late Rolf Berntsen, who was married to the mother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Marit Berntsen of Kristiansand.

That means Norway’s royal family has now been directly affected, as so many other families in Norway, by the attacks on Friday. Crown Princess Mette-Marit, along with her husband Crown Prince Haakon and other members of the royal family, already had spent most of the weekend visiting survivors, taking part in memorial services and trying to help other Norwegians deal with their shock and grief. The grief then hit her own family as well.

“The crown princess’ thoughts go to his (Trond Berntsen’s) closest family,” Marianne Hagen, spokesman at the Royal Palace, told Dagbladet.

Terror lasted two hours
Survivors of the massacre on Utøya have said the shooting went on for nearly two hours. No one on the island had weapons to resist the attack by Breivik, who police said still had ammunition left when they finally managed to track him down on the island.

Breivik reportedly surrendered to police and since has shown little regret for his acts under questioning. He has called his attacks “gruesome but necessary” in his efforts to stop Norway from becoming a multi-cultural society, by targeting Norway’s political elite.

Breivik faced a custody hearing on Monday, charged with both the massacre and setting off the bomb that severely damaged buildings housing government ministries in downtown Oslo and killed at least seven people. Investigators continued to sift through the rubble in search of more victims on Monday.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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