On Friday afternoon, a loud explosion shattered the windows in downtown Oslo and knocked us out of our chairs. We ran out onto the streets and into a maze of debris and smoke, there were policemen out there, shouting at people to keep running.
We finally took cover in an underground gym in Oslo’s Kvadraturen-district. Someone stopped by to tell us that the government offices had been bombed, and that a lot of people were either injured, dead or still trapped at the bomb site. Terror experts, CIA-agents, journalists and everyone at the bomb-shelter-cum-gym queued up to tell us that jihadists were attacking our city. Then, messages from kids at Utøya Island started to pop up in our Twitter-feed.
“I’m shot. Don’t call me. We are hiding.” We heard that a man dressed in police uniform had opened fire at a youth camp on the island. A few hours later, terrified kids were telling the media that the shooter who came for them was white and spoke with an Oslo accent. We took a taxi home, confused by the idea that al-Qaeda would have been able to hire a local to do their dirty work.
At 9.50PM, Norway's justice minister confirmed that the gunman was indeed Norwegian. A few hours after that, we first saw the pictures of the popped-collar terrorist. He wasn't a jihadist. He was Anders Behring Breivik from Skøyen, a middle class neighbourhood on Oslo’s west side. Anders was 32 years old, went to the same high school as one of us, played World of Warcraft, listened to trance (Armin van Buuren) and was a Christian fundamentalist and right-wing activist, who by then had killed 91 people in the worst massacre in Norway since WWII.
The next day we returned to the streets to survey the destruction.
When we arrived in the city centre, these two young soldiers were the first of many we saw out on patrol.
Workers were clearing away shattered glass from Folkets Hus ('The Peoples' House'), a working organisation owned by Arbeiderpartiet, ('the Labour Party').
This guy was stopping people using the entrance to the financial department, where a car bomb made from a mixture of fertiliser and fuel went off at 3.26PM on Friday. According to Norwegian police, a series of other explosives were lined up in the surrounding buildings, but they failed to detonate.
An army van parked outside an open-air café in the city centre. It's normally crowded, it's one of our favourite places to eat.
We met a guy whose friend had sent him this message quoting a man he'd seen yelling in the street a month or so ago. It reads: "'This summer it will happen, I am not a mental patient if that's what you think, and we're in Afghanistan with the USA and all that…' He screamed that out loud… Then jumped on the bike and left, total nutter."
The Arbeiderpartiet headquarters were 500 metres away from the bombsite, but its façade was still severely damaged.
This is the financial department. The bomb went off behind it. You can see the Norwegian flag lowered to half mast as a sign of national mourning.
The blast was so forceful it even blew out a garage door over half a kilometre away from the car bomb.
We shot this photo of Oslo's city centre from the balcony of an apartment in the Oslo neighourhood of Grønland.
This is Tore, a 28-year old journalist living in Grønland. He'd just woken up and was making breakfast on Friday when he heard an extremely loud blast. At first he thought it was thunder but then his building started shaking and smoke filled the air. He looked out of his window and saw that the parliament headquarters had been destroyed.
When he found out that the terrorist wasn't a radical Islamist, he wasn't surprised. He said that there are a lot of people with right wing tendencies in Norway and that those who hold those beliefs aren't as organised as they are in the rest of Europe, so it's easy to feel alienated. He also said it's easy to feel a deep sense of meaninglessness in Norway if you don't find happiness in the normal things, like having a family and a job.
He also said the government should be more alert and not only focus their attention on Islamist terror groups. I guess they will now, but it's hard to see how they could have prepared for an attack as unexpected and as large as this.
WORDS: ALIX & ANDREAS
PHOTOS: CHRISTIAN BELGAUX