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In Norway, a sense of bewilderment and vows to stand together

Flags are at half mast in Norway and informal memorials have popped up near the bombing site as the country comes to grips with the fact that one of their own carried out attacks that killed at least 92 people.

By Frank RadosevichCorrespondent / July 23, 2011

Mourners gather around an improvised shrine in Oslo, Norway, to remember the victims of the shooting and bombing attacks on Friday.

Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

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Oslo, Norway

Norway continued to reel today as the country, known for its low-crime rates and mild-mannered politics, sought to come to grips with the largest attack on its soil since World War II.

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Many Norwegians remained in shock over the news that the man accused of carrying out Friday’s terrorist bombing of government buildings and massacring of dozens of youths at a summer camp was a fellow countryman.

“Everyone thought that he was a Muslim, a Pakistani, or someone with dark skin,” says Titio-Maria Sesay, a teenager who lives in Oslo, “but he was Norwegian and he did this to his own people.”

In Oslo and throughout the nation, flags remained at half-mast in morning for the 92 so far confirmed dead. Despite the drizzling rain, crowds formed along the intersections leading to the bombed-out square where police said a powerful car bomb smashed windows and ignited fires in government buildings that included the prime minister's office. The explosion killed seven and wounded more than a dozen.

“At first, I thought it was thunder,” says Mina Bonful, another teen from Oslo who felt the bomb rock her home. “I’m still shocked.”

Passersby craned their necks to get a better view of the damage from behind lines of police tape. Many photographed cleanup crews or soldiers guarding the entrances with cameras on their mobile telephones. Mounds of flowers stacked up along the sidewalks where candles flickered and hand-held flags fluttered in the wind.

Police arrested 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik of Oslo on the island of Utoya in connection with the deadly bombing and shooting. Investigators allege Mr. Breivik detonated the car bomb and then drove to Utoya and opened fire on teenagers attending a camp there organized by the ruling Norwegian Labor party.

Breivik remained in police custody and was expected to appear in court on Monday. Police have not detailed any motive yet for the two crimes and said they are offering grief counseling to survivors.

Though the bombing jolted Oslo, emotions are particularly raw over the camp shooting since many of the victims are believed to have been in their teens. Addressing the nation this morning, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was due to visit the camp today, called the shooting spree a “nightmare.”

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