Outpouring of rage, sympathy after Norway's twin attacks
Published Saturday, July 23, 2011 12:42PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:27AM EDT
Norway's twin attacks spur outrage and sympathy
Leaders from around the world are expressing their shock and sadness after two deadly attacks that killed at least 92 people in Norway on Friday -- a day which Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said now marks the deadliest day in his country's peacetime history.
"This is very difficult for me because it's a very, very demanding situation to meet so many people that are hurting so much," Stoltenberg said after meeting with surviving victims of the mass shooting that killed 85 people.
On Friday, a massive explosion shook the government quarter in the Norwegian capital, ripping through the high rise building that was home to Stoltenberg's office. A short while later, a youth retreat for the prime minister's centre-left party being held on the nearby island of Utoya was targeted.
Police say a 32-year-old suspect has been taken into custody and charged with acts of terrorism. Although they have not released his identity, the Oslo apartment of the man named in Norwegian media reports was raided overnight.
From Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he was "intensely saddened" by the shootings and bombings in the Scandinavian country, calling the acts barbarous and senseless.
Defense Minister Peter MacKay said the attacks in Norway demonstrate that the world is still a "very volatile place" and Canadians must remain vigilant because no one, even Canada, is immune from terrorism.
Speaking from Bali, where she is attending the ASEAN regional forum, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the attacks are a reminder of how precious the gift of life is. She added that the U.S. strongly condemns acts of terrorism, no matter who is behind it or where it comes from.
"This tragedy strikes right at the heart and the soul of a peaceful people. Norway is well known for its efforts to resolve conflicts, bring people together. It sets a high example for social entrepreneurship, and this terrible event is especially heartbreaking because so many of the victims were young people under the age of 25," Clinton said.
Across Europe, leaders are also expressing their disgust and outrage over the deadly attacks.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron called the acts "horrific" and said the loss of life is "hard to comprehend."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin that despite the few details that had emerged so far, she was certain "that hatred was a motive" behind the attacks.
"Hatred of others, hatred of those who look different, of the supposedly foreign -- this hatred is our common enemy," she said.
In Sweden, the Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Norway now faces a tough challenge in its fight against extremism.
"Remember that what an extremist does can very often be used by other extremists. Our task is to show another way," Reinfeldt said in Stockholm.
"We all have to stand up together and show what is important: to respect each other, to take care of each other, to stand up for democracy, openness and show respect for all people, not the least young people who have chosen to engage themselves politically," he said.
The attacks also drew sharp words from Austria's opposition Freedom Party, which has been criticized in the past for its anti-immigration and anti-Islamic rhetoric.
"It is absolutely abhorrent how young people were systematically killed," general secretary Harald Vilimsky said, according to the Austria Press Agency.
Reaching out to the families of the young adults who died, the European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said he was shocked that the target was youths at a political party camp.
"This is an unimaginable tragedy for the families who lost their loved ones, young people at the outset of their adult life, fascinated with public service," he said. "It's shocking how one can inflict so much evil."
Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard also called the acts "evil." She said her country was prepared to help in any way it can.
"People have been killed, many more have been injured and from the tales that are now being told by survivors it's clear many have lived through absolute nightmares," Gillard said.
And from the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI also extended condolences through his envoy to Norway.
"All these actions are irrational and difficult to comprehend, whether they had personal or political reasons," Archbishop Paul Tscherrig told Vatican Radio.
He added that the Roman Catholic Church is praying for the victims and will remember them at Sunday Mass.
With files from The Associated Press