Return to Stories

Return to Utøya

On 22 July 2011, a lone terrorist set off a huge car bomb in the middle of Oslo's Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of
Norway. Eight people were killed and scores seriously wounded. However
shocking this attack was, it was to be overshadowed by a second attack
that day, perpetrated by the same man - Anders Behring Breivik, a right wing ethnic Norwegian. On the
island of Utøya, Breivik went on a killing spree, taking the
lives of 69 people - mostly young people - and seriously wounding another 66.
It is the single worst massacre in peace time, with more people killed
than the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings combined.
Utøya is owned by the Workers' Youth League (Arbeidernes
ungdomsfylking, AUF), the youth wing of the Labour Party, and it was
during their annual summer camp there that Breivik attacked. Dressed
as a police officer, he made his way to the island saying that he was carrying out a routine check following
the bombing in Oslo. Shortly after arriving on Utøya, he
started indiscriminately firing his weapons. Young people were hunted down down and executed. For about an hour and a half he roamed the small island, shooting at anything that moved. When a special police squad arrived on the island he surrendered without a struggle.

Following an extensive police investigation the island was officially handed
back to the AUF on August 19th. In order to accommodate surviviors and
relatives of the vicitims wanting to visit the island, the AUF
requested the press to stay off the island until Oct 3rd. Panos
photographer Fredrik Naumann visited the island of Utøya that day,
along with domestic and international media.

Though there were few physical signs of the massacre except for a few
bullet holes and doors broken down by the police upon entry, he found the experience of being on the island deeply distressing. Despite having covered events like the aftermath of the 2005 Tsunami and various conflicts,
this was different.

I've never experienced anything like it. The atmosphere was very
uncomfortable. Walking through the forest and along the trails were
young people had been trying to - unsuccessfully - get way; standing
at the waters edge were children had been executed in large numbers.
To be honest, I just wanted to get off the island as soon as possible.

The AUF plans to rehabilitate the island and is hoping to organise summer
camps on Utøya again in the future.

powered by