A massive bomb blast ripped apart a building in Norway's capital Oslo at 3.26 PM local time on Friday. The blast, which gutted a building close to the Prime Minister's office, killed seven people and injured more than 90.
Even as the first major bomb attack in the country after the World War II jolted Norwegians badly, another monstrous and mindless attack was about to happen in a tiny island 50 miles from Oslo.
Around 700 youths had gathered on the Utoya island, owned by Norway's Labor Party, for a political camp. The news of the Oslo bombing reached the campers on the island in minutes via the radio, and all 700 teenagers and young adults gathered together to discuss the incident.
Even as they gathered, they apparently got a phone call informing that a policeman was arriving to make a security review.
BBC spoke to a survivor who worked at the information booth on the island who described what happened next.
I went to the coffee shop to get supplies for everyone. I then heard gun shots and could see people running. As they were running, they were shot in the back. ... People were falling dead right in front of me.
The assailant, identified by the Norwegian police as Anders Behring Breivik, had started the bloodiest carnage the country had seen in years. He came to the gathered youths posing as a policeman and told them he was there to review security. The teenagers thought a security drill was going to take place.
Suddenly the attacker took out a machine gun and started indiscriminate firing, after screaming aloud that he was there to kill everyone.
CNN quoted Norwegian Labor Party member Bjorn Jarle Roberg-Larsen as saying that the attacker had accosted the group of youth posing as a policeman conducting a security check. After just a few minutes, he took a handgun and started to shoot people, Roberg-Larsen said.
He was wearing a black uniform, with red edges. He looked liked a Nazi, with his police-like uniform and hair, the survivor, Adrian Pracon, recalled.
Within an hour or so, more than 80 people, mostly teenage children, had been killed in the holiday island which will now be remembered as the grimmest graveyard in the world.
Pracon also said that the shooter came back searching for people alive after an hour.
He came back an hour later. I was with other survivors and we were lying down and hiding behind the trees and rocks. We were freezing in our wet clothes.... The shooting started again and people were falling on top of me, on my legs and falling into the water - that's when many people died. I just had to shield myself behind them, praying he wouldn't see me.
Stine Renate Haheim, a member of the Norwegian Parliament, said a ‘policeman’ came to the scene after they heard about the Oslo bombings and that everyone thought they were safe now. But the ‘policeman’ started shooting people one by one, Haheim said.
Some youths ran up to the assailant thinking that the whole thing was a security drill. But they were taken down by the bullets. People started to scurry for cover, with some running into bushes, caves, buildings on the premises and even into the sea.
People jumped into the sea with heavy clothing and footwear even as the shooter gave close chase. Some swam to safety, others were hit by bullets trying to swim away. Early reports said dead bodies were seen floating on the waters.
A 19-year-old camper called Emilie Bersaas explained how she escaped bullets narrowly. I'm at a building with the army, she said after the carnage was over. I ran here when I heard the shooting. I heard a lot of people running and screaming. I ran to the nearest building and hid under the desk.'
She said there was 'a lot of shooting' and she heard 'screaming from the next room.
While about 84 people lost their lives in the carnage may hundreds confronted death in close quarters.
Another eye witness, Andre Scheie, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he saw dead bodies floating on the shore of the island.
For A 15-year old Elise, whose father doesn’t want her surname to be disclosed, narrated to AP how she escaped from the killer. She said she was hiding behind a rock on which the killer stood and the she could hear him breathing. She called up her parents on the phone and they asked her not to panic and get rid of the brightly colored jacket she was wearing.
A survivor who saw the pictures of Breivik on TV confirmed that he was the assailant who went on a shooting spree on the island.
Armed police were dispatched to the island in the wake of the shooting, but by the time they arrived the carnage was over. The police shot and wounded Breivik before he was arrested. According to the preliminary conclusion of the police, he acted alone behind the twin attacks.