Police search rural idyll for clues to Norway killings

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 23, 2011 8:58 PM
Police search rural idyll for clues to Norway killings

By John Acher and Ole Petter Skonnord

RENA, Norway (Reuters) Police forensic teams on Saturday searched an idyllic small farm leased by a Norwegian man suspected of killing at least 92 people in a bomb blast and a shooting rampage Friday.

The farm in the village of Aasta lies in a pine forest on the banks of the Glomma River about 160 kilometers north of Oslo and was a picture of calm under a light drizzle that brought out the scent of the trees.

Police officers took cordoned off the farm, leased by Anders Behring Breivik two months ago, Friday evening.

The 32-year-old has been held for Friday's massacre of at least 85 young people on a tiny island hosting a summer camp for the youth wing of the ruling Labor party and car bomb blast in Oslo's government district that killed at least seven.

Policemen, one wearing blue overalls and a surgical mask hanging below his chin, and a soldier dressed in army fatigues paced across the yard and in-and-out of a red barn facing the small white farmhouse.

Local police chief Ove Osgjelten allowed a small group of reporters to enter the perimeter marked by police tape to view and photograph the farmyard from a short distance. He declined to give details of the police operation under way.

In front of one outbuilding, along a road leading down a gentle slope to the house, stood a half a dozen thick white sacks of fertilizer. Many fertilizers contain a substance that can also be a key ingredient in a forceful explosive.

Breivik in May bought 6 tonnes of fertilizer, according to a farm supply firm.

Osgjelten would not comment on whether the suspect had blended fertilizer to create a bomb in any of the farm buildings. "You can all think for yourselves," he told reporters.

Oslo police, still examining the residues of the Oslo bomb, would not confirm media reports the bomb was a fertilizer bomb, the kind used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in the United States that claimed 168 lives.

Arild Tangen, a taxi driver who said he drove Breivik from the Rena train station to the farm Thursday at about 1 p.m., said he did not know the man but he seemed to be "a nice guy."

"He seemed like an up-and-coming businessman coming right from the job," he told Reuters. "I could never imagine he could have done something like that."

(Editing by Matthew Jones)