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Norway massacre survivors tell their stories

By DAVID MacDOUGALL
Associated Press

OSLO, Norway (AP) – Three survivors of the bombing and shooting spree that left 77 people dead in Norway told their stories to The Associated Press this week.

The Barzingi siblings are Iraqi Kurds who came to Norway 12 years ago. They were attending a political youth retreat on a resort island when an anti-immigrant extremist opened fire, soon after setting off a bomb in the nearby capital, Oslo.

________

Hana Barzingi, a 17-year-old girl and full-time student.

“When I heard the shooting, I thought it was a joke, so I just sat there when everyone ran to the windows. And then everybody was just laying down with their hands over their heads. Then me and my friend stood up and I went to the window. There I saw a man. Blond hair, blue eyes, with iPod headset, earplugs, and he had a big sniper (gun) I think. And then I said ‘What the hell are you doing?’ because I didn’t know what was going to happen or where he (the shooter) was. So he just turned around and said to me ‘have you heard where the shooting is coming from?’ And I said ‘to the left’ and when I said it I just looked to the left and I saw two people already laying there dead. And so he said to me ‘I’m a cop and I will get you guys a place where is safe and I just have to gather everyone so it could be easier for me to protect you.’ When he said that I think someone heard it because someone ran out. And he just took up the gun and shot the person.

“Actually, he talked like he was all calmed down. And then when he shot the person he just turned around softly and just looked at me. Then I was in shock and I just grabbed my friend’s arm and pulled her down. And then I heard the shooting was coming inside. So he started to come into the house. And I just ran. It was like a group of sheep, like running from a dog or something. People were falling down. Nobody cared, they just ran for their life …

“I found out that two of my friends died, but I feel so empty inside like I want to cry. When I meet friends they expect me to cry. But I don’t feel the tears are there. I really think this is a nightmare still … So I don’t know why I’m so empty but I’m waiting for the reaction to come.

“Actually, I smile, like now and then. When I feel like I want to smile. But when people smile at me I don’t really want to smile because if it feels like they show me sympathy, I don’t want it. Because I know what I’ve been through. But they’re just faking a smile to make me feel glad.”

________

Hajin Barzingi, a 19-year-old woman and full-time student:

“I remember I was at the phone with my sister to give her a warning about Oslo and then when she got off the phone the shooting started. And then I thought it was just a joke, someone just playing with some balloons or something. But then several people ran into the little room where I was, crying and shouting out ‘there’s someone out there shooting at people’. And then the shooting came closer and closer, and then I understood this was serious. So I went to the hall looking for these two (points at her brother & sister). But I couldn’t find them, so I thought they were hiding somewhere safe, so I should do that too. So I ran into the toilet nearby. And I ran into a little toilet. There were two guys there. And I said ‘I’m going to hide with you guys,’ and they said okay, And then a lady from Uganda, she was an international guest, ran in too, and lay down on the floor because she was pregnant. So we closed the door and sat there and tried to be quiet, don’t do any moves or anything, and tell each other it’s going to be fine, we’re going to get help, the police are going to come. And then the text messages started, from everyone I know and everyone I don’t know telling me ‘Are you at Utoya,? How are you? and stuff.’ But there was two friends of mine who gave me information about the world outside, about what’s happening, so I got to know that the police are coming, helicopters are on the way, so that I could calm the others down.

Many people say that Norwegian people are cold hearted, and cold humans and such stuff. I’ve heard it a lot and I just want to tell everybody that Norwegian people are warm-hearted, you just need to get to know them and get past their wall. And as you see how Norway has taken this situation, everyone cares. And each of those who didn’t make it at the island are also a child of every mother and father here in this country.

I’m not thinking about the dead as if they are gone forever. I’m thinking that they are happy, and they are together, everyone who died. They are with each other, and just have to trust. And so do we who are still alive. And there’s a reason why we are alive. Even though all of a sudden I start crying.

________

Dana Barzingi, a 21-year-old man who works as an electrician.

“I didn’t know what to do. I just ran around the island and I was looking for them (nods at sisters). And I picked up wounded people on the way. I brought them to a safe place and I just went and looked for them (nods again at sisters), until the police took me and thought I was a terrorist. I wasn’t the only one. Another friend of mine, the police thought he was a terrorist.”

On friends who died.

“They were great people. They were the best people you could get to know. They didn’t care if you were white, black, yellow or whatever. When they looked at you, they looked at you like a human. So, we miss them, but… There are no words. Words can’t describe how they were. They were fantastic. They were the best people I knew. I’m starting to smile a bit now. Now and then. In a week? In a year? I don’t know. I don’t know if I ever will go back to the same person I was once. And I don’t think I will be. I feel much stronger right now than I was. What doesn’t kill you makes you only stronger”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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