OSLO, Norway — Gunnar Linaker was a gentle bear of a man, a lover of people and the outdoors who dedicated himself to the ideals of the country’s left-leaning governing party.
Tove Aashill Knutsen worked as a secretary at the electrician’s union, a well-liked woman who commuted to work by bike.
Ismail Haji Ahmed was a dreadlocked descendant of immigrants, a teenage musician who recently appeared on the “Norway’s Talents” television show.
All died in a few hours Friday in the bombing and shooting spree by a man on a self-described quest to rid Europe of immigrants and leftists. On Tuesday, police began officially release the names of the victims, transforming an anonymous death toll — 76 — into a vivid tapestry of lives cut short, bringing new collective grief to an already reeling nation.
Linaker, 23, hailed from the village of Bardu in northern Norway. He was “a calm, big teddy bear with lots of humour and lots of love,” his father Roald told The Associated Press. He was a devoted member of the Labor Party, which advocates a strong welfare state, high taxes and controlled but continuing immigration.
Roald Linaker said he had even taken leave from his political-science studies at the university in the northern city of Tromsoe in order to work full-time in politics and was a regional secretary of the party’s youth wing, which hold the camp on the island of Utoya every summer.
“He had been to Utoya many, many times, four or five years,” his father said.
His voice weak and trembling, Linaker said he had been on the phone with his son when the shooting started. “He said to me: ’Dad, dad, someone is shooting,’ and then he hung up.”
That was the last he heard from his son. Gunnar Linaker was wounded and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died on Saturday. His 17-year-old sister also was at the camp, but somehow survived the slaughter, he said.
He declined to speak any further.
Knutsen, 56, had left the office of the electricians and information technology workers’ union for the day and was on her way to a subway station when the bomb exploded in Oslo’s government office quarter, union head Hans Felix said.
Normally Knutsen would go to and from work on her bicycle, but earlier that day she had left it at a repair shop.
“It wasn’t finished, so this day she had to take the subway home. Tove never got home,” Felix said. “Tove was a happy girl who was well liked by us all, and it feels unreal that she is no longer with us.”
Police only identified two more of the slain, both victims of the bombing. They were Hanna M. Orvik Endresen, 61, and Kai Hauge, a 33-year-old who owned a bar and restaurant in downtown Oslo. A flower arrangement outside the bar on Tuesday afternoon included notes from friends and a photo of him. A note beside the locked front door, handwritten in black marker, read: “Closed due to death.” Inside, the bar was dark.
The national newspaper Dagbladet posted the names and photos of 30 people it said were killed in the attacks or missing. The information, apparently received from friends or relatives, showed three victims who did not appear to be ethnic Norwegians — examples of the increasingly diverse Norway that the alleged bomber and gunman says he despised.
Among them was Ahmed, whom the newspaper said had recently appeared on the “Norway’s Got Talent” television show. Another, reported as missing, was a 20-year-old native of Iraq, Jamil Rafal Yasin.
Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere attended a packed memorial ceremony Tuesday for the victims in the World Islamic Mission mosque in Oslo. After the ceremony, Pakistani-born Imam Najeeb ur Rehman Naz said the massacre had brought Norwegian residents of all backgrounds closer together.
“Everyone realizes that terrorism and this kind of activity doesn’t have anything to do with any religion,” he told the AP. “They are individuals who can be found in any community who don’t represent the majority at all.”
The lawyer for Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to the massacre, on Tuesday said his client was likely insane. He called him cold, and said he saw himself as a warrior and saviour of the Western world.
Breivik has confessed to last week’s bombing and rampage, but he has pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges he faces.