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Published: Tuesday, 7/26/2011

Norway's tragedy

Americans can share the grief of Norwegians over the twin attacks late last week that killed 76 people in a bombing in Oslo and a shooting spree at a political youth camp on a nearby island.

The mass killing in Norway, which has a population of 4.7 million, is the equivalent of the United States losing 4,588 people in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The death toll, which police downgraded Monday from the initial count, is the greatest tragedy to befall Norway since World War II.

The self-proclaimed attacker, Anders Behring Breivik, appears to have acted alone. Officials said he warned during interrogations that two other cells in his terrorist network could launch attacks.

A 1,500-page manifesto shows that the suspect saw himself as defending historically Christian, European Norway from Muslim and other multicultural external influences. He said he planned the killings, which targeted a youth camp of Norway's liberal Labor Party, as "marketing" for his call for a revolution that would push Muslims and other immigrants out of Europe.

The accused perpetrator's weapons of choice were a bomb made from agricultural fertilizer components, an automatic rifle, and a machine pistol. Norway's gun laws are considered to be strict, but they did not head off Friday's attack.

The country does not have the death penalty; the maximum prison sentence for any offender is 21 years. Still, the suspect told authorities Monday that he does not expect to be released.

Norway has a reputation as a peaceful, orderly country. It has shared considerable oil wealth with poorer countries on a humanitarian basis. Americans can ask Norwegians, longtime friends and U.S. allies, to accept the nation's deepest condolences and allow us to grieve with them at this time of horrible loss.



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