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Death toll jumps; suspect still being questioned

A person wounded in the shooting at the Labour Youth League summer camp in Utoya is stretchered off a helicopter at an Oslo hospital Friday.

UPDATE 10:30 p.m. ET: The death toll in the shootings at the island youth camp has jumped sharply.

"The updated knowledge we are sitting on now is at least 80," police chief Oystein Maeland told a news conference. "We can't guarantee that won't increase somewhat."

Hundreds of young people were attending the Labor Party youth event at the camp on Utoya island in a lake near Oslo when the gunman attacked.

UPDATE 8:35 p.m. ET: Dagbladet has more details on Anders Behring Breivik, 32, who has been identified as the suspect in Friday's attacks:

Neighbors tell Dagbladet that they have seen the 32-year-old in what looked like a military uniform several times. ...

Late last night, he was still being questioned. It was not known what might have been the motive behind the attacks. 

"We have not formulated a basis for charges so far. We will formulate a charge during the night when we see what comes out of the interrogation," said prosecutor Trine Dingelan to Dagbladet at 1 a.m.

Behring Breivik for a time lived in the same street as a number of prominent white politicians on the west side of Oslo. 

In spring 2009 he established a sole proprietorship in Hedmark with the purpose to cultivate various vegetables and fruit products. Investigators were examining whether the company could have had access to ingredients for explosives. 

He has tried to establish a number of companies in recent years, but they all have been dissolved. One of the companies pursued the development of sales services on the Internet, while another imported goods from abroad.

UPDATE 8:13 p.m. ET: Norwegian television is reporting the identity of the suspect in the Norwegian attacks.

TV2, the country's largest broadcaster, identified him as Anders Behring Breivik, 32, describing him as a member of "right-wing extremist groups in eastern Norway." Shortly thereafter, The Telegraph newspaper of London reported the same information, quoting Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget.

A man of the same name and age is identified in government business records as sole director of a company called Breivik Geofarm. In the records, the company says its business is the "growing of vegetables, melons, roots and tubers" and reports that it has 790 employees.

UPDATE 7:38 p.m. ET: Norwegian authorities are tightening security at the nation's borders and airports, Dagbladet reports. Citing police, it says Norwegians are asked to limit their use of mobile phones and have ramped up security for the royal family. It quotes a new government statement:

"Norway is characterized by an uncertain and difficult situation in connection with explosions in the city center and the shooting of young people. It is important that the citizens of Norway, to the greatest extent possible, preserve the peace in spite of the tragedies. It is important that people also follow instructions from police and other authorities." 

UPDATE 7:25 p.m. ET: Complete with pictures, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reports police are storming the home of the 32-year-old suspect in today's Norwegian attacks:

"Police officers in protective gear armed with machine guns arrived at 23:45 p.m. at a residential building in Oslo," the newspaper says. "A 32-year-old man has been arrested after two terrorist attacks today in Oslo and Utoya. Dagbladet has learned that the man has been living at that address."

Some media outlets are reporting a name for the suspect, but NBC News has not been able to confirm it. We'll report it here if and when we do.

UPDATE 6:55 p.m. ET: More is now coming in from people close to the investigation raising the likelihood that the attacks were home-grown and not the work of Islamic militants.

Addressing whether the 32-year-old Norwegian suspect might be affiliated with al-Qaida or another group, Oslo's acting police acting chief said at a late-night news conference: "We do not know if he was involved in an extremist environment."

And Tore Bjorgo, a professor at Norwegian Police University College — which state broadcaster NRK reported is working with police on the investigation — said the fact that the second attack was directed at a political youth organization suggested the involvement of local or European right-wing extremists.


NRK reports:

"I have consistently kept the possibility open that this might be the extreme right," Bjorgo said.

Bjorgo said the action is reminiscent of the bomb attack in Oklahoma City in 1995, where the right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a powerful car bomb.

"It reminds me of the Oklahoma City bombing. The scenarios we have seen today are described in right-wing literature" like "The Turner Diaries" and "Hunter." 

The first book deals with a bloody race war during which, among other things, the FBI's headquarters are bombed. McVeigh was carrying a copy of "The Turner Diaries" when he was arrested.

If you can read Norwegian (or want to run it through an online translator), here's the full NRK report.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m. ET: We've rounded up what we've learned about the shootings here:

Norway attacks might not be terrorism, expert cautions

Highlights:

• Friday's attacks in Olso and Buskerud could simply be the actions of a disturbed individual with no connection to al-Qaida or any other international terrorist groups, a prominent authority on Islamic militant groups said.

• Witnesses said they saw as many as 20 bodies on the island or in the water, but police said they could confirm only nine deaths for now.

• Police say the suspected gunman is a 32-year-old Norwegian man who posed as a police officer. 

• Undetonated explosives also were found at the island.

• Witnesses describe the chaos at the scene.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m. ET: Police have confirmed that undetonated explosives were found on Utoya island. 

UPDATE 5:22 p.m.: Police say the gunman is a 32-year-old Norwegian.

Witnesses described the suspect  as "blond" and "Nordic-looking." Late Friday, Knut Storberegt, Norway's royal minister of justice and the police, confirmed that he is a Norwegian; the BBC, citing police, said he was from Utoya. Police said he is also believed to have been involved in the bombing that killed seven people earlier in the day in Oslo, about 25 miles away. 

Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist in militant Islamic movements and research director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College, cautioned that widespread assumptions that the attacks were connected to international terrorism could be wrong.

The description of the suspect and his possible involvement in bombing national government offices "point to an internal rather than external  extremist," Ranstorp told Nettavisen.

"Intuitively, the bombing is al-Qaida-related, but with this attack on Utoya, this could just be a crazy person," Ranstorp said.

UPDATE 4:07 p.m. ET: Oslo police say that with the gunman in custody, Utoya island is now safe.

Inspector Bjorn Erik Sem-Jacobsen of the Buskerud police district told state broadcaster NRK that the investigation was difficult because witnesses and others who were on the island when the gunman opened fire had good reason to be suspicious of anyone in a police uniform.

"We are working to ensure that the young people out there have confidence that we are real police," Sem-Jacobsen said.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m. ET: Police said they could confirm only nine deaths in the shooting at Utoya. A police spokesman said a 10th person might may have been killed, but that was "uncertain."

Previous reports quoted multiple witnesses as saying as many as 20 people may have been killed.

Norwegian authorities said at a news conference that the gunman was not connected to the police and "has no relation to us."

UPDATE 3:35 p.m. ET: Police said they were confident they had been able to identify the gunman, whom they had in custody. They did not release his identity, but they said they had confirmed that they had "reason to believe" he was connected to the Oslo bombing.

NRK reporter Astrid Randen quoted witnesses as saying the man — described as "tall, blond and Nordic-looking" and speaking Norwegian — wore a police uniform and summoned youth campers to gather around him before he "just executed them."

People in at least 20 pleasure boats converged on the island to help with the rescue operation. One of them, André Skeie, told NRK that he saw at least a dozen "lifeless bodies" floating in the water.

Skeie said he helped remove more than 15 injured people from the island. Many of them were shot in the stomach, he said. 

"It's absolutely awful. It looks like a war zone," Skeie said by phone.

UPDATE 3:12 p.m. ET: NRK is quoting witnesses as saying at least five and perhaps 20 or more people may have been killed at Utoya, some of them shot as they tried to swim to safety from the island. It stressed that police had not confirmed the accounts.

UPDATE 2:53 p.m. ET: NRK quotes police as saying they now suspect one or more bombs may be at the scene at Utoya.

UPDATE 2:51 p.m. ET: The Norwegian news agency NTB quotes witnesses describing a scene of "complete panic."

A witness said in a text message that "we are very afraid," the agency reported. "We do not know what to do. Many people are injured. We are afraid. We are waiting for help. Some are seriously injured. We cannot do anything."

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Posted 2:45 p.m. ET: As speculation raged that the bombing of government buildings in Oslo, Norway, could be Islamist terrorism, a "tall, blond and Nordic-looking" man dressed as a police officer opened fire with a machine gun on a political youth conference 25 miles away, police and eyewitnesses said.

Police told NRK television that preliminary reports were least five people were injured in the shooting on the island of Utoya, which they said they believed was linked to the bombing earlier in the day. 

NRK and other Norwegian media said the government had sent an anti-terrorism unit to evacuate the island, where the scene was described as chaotic. NRK reported that some terrified campers were trying to swim back to the mainland from the summer gathering, which was organized by the country's Labour Party. 

"The situation's gone from bad to worse," said Runar Kvernen, a spokesman for the national police.