Terror in Norway captured live on social media

23 Jul 2011

The terrifying events in Norway in which close to 100 people are believed to have been killed in a shocking gun attack and a bombing in the capital city of Oslo were captured in real-time on social media.

In what has been the most violent episode in the normally peaceful country since the Second World War, news first emerged yesterday around 2.30pm of a car bombing near Norway’s Prime Minister’s office. As emergency workers and police were grappling with the situation where many are believed to have been killed, a calamitous ordeal was about to unfold on an island where students were attending a summer camp.

Fifteen miles away on the tiny island of Utoya, where 560 members of the Labour Youth movement had gathered, a man disguised as a police officer opened fire on the gathering of people, aged 15-25.

As many as 80 people alone are feared dead from the gunman’s attack. The ordeal was eerily captured via Facebook and Twitter.

As the shootings happened, one of the youths put an update on Facebook that read: “There is shooting on Utoya. DO NOT call anyone there. They are hiding in the bushes. Police on their way.”

According to The Telegraph, another youth tweeted: “We are sitting down by the beach. A man is shooting clothed in a police uniform. Help us! When are the police coming to help us?!”

Here is a tweet from one youth in the immediate aftermath of the shooting:

Utoya tweet

Here is footage from YouTube on the immediate aftermath of the carnage, with eye-witness accounts.

Theories ranging from far right extremists to links with Al-Qaeda are being flouted in the media but there are no conclusive answers.

A poignant message from Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg began appearing across Facebook and Google+ last night which read: “We will stand by our democracy. The answer to violence is more democracy, more humanity.”

Photo: Emergency workers on Utoya island in the aftermath of yesterday’s events in Norway (still from TelegraphTV report on YouTube)

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years