MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The man accused of the bombing and mass shooting in Oslo three days ago appeared in court today.
Anders Behring Breivik was remanded in custody for eight weeks, in almost complete isolation. In the closed court session, Breivik acknowledged the bombing and shooting spree, but he did not plead guilty. Authorities said they would investigate his claim of the existence of two other extremist cells.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is in Oslo and she reports on the day's events.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Reporters and locals thronged outside the Oslo courthouse. After a 35-minute hearing, Judge Kim Heger addressed the media and, through a translator, outlined some statements Breivik made to authorities.
Judge KIM HEGER (District Court, Oslo): (Through Translator) According to what the court understands, the accused believes that he needed to carry out these acts in order to save Norway and Western Europe from, among other things, cultural Marxism and Muslim takeover.
POGGIOLI: In his 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the internet before Friday's attacks, Breivik had said he wanted to use his court appearance for ideological grandstanding. But the judge rejected his request the hearing be public.
Judge Heger said the aim of Breivik's violent attacks was to inflict as much harm as possible on Norway's ruling Labour Party, which the suspect accuses of betraying the nation. Quoting Breivik, the judge said the purpose of the operation was not to kill as many people as possible.
Judge HEGER: (Through Translator) But to give a strong signal that cannot be misunderstand, that as long a Labour Party keeps driving its ideological line, and keeps deconstructing Norwegian culture and mass importing Muslims, then they must assume responsibility for this treason. And any person with a conscience cannot allow its country to be colonized by Muslims.
POGGIOLI: Police today lowered the total death toll to 76, down from 93, citing confusion at the massacre site at the island youth camp outside Oslo, as rescuers tried to help survivors.
One man who was there was Iranian-born Ali Esbati, a long-time resident of Norway. A human rights activist, Esbati had been invited to the youth camp to talk about the rise of right wing politics in Europe. He said all of sudden there was panic, everyone running, when he saw a young woman lying on the ground, shot in the mouth, arm and perhaps her neck.
Mr. ALI ESBATI (Political Activist): And that was one of the most disturbing things I experienced, because she kept repeating that if I die now, just remember you're all fantastic. And this was a girl of 18 or 19 years old, and she was repeating that I can see in your eyes that you're afraid, so I know I will die.
POGGIOLI: Esbati says he does not know what happened to her. The shots got closer as he ran to the edge of the lake.
Mr. ESBATI: Just at that moment, when I was standing close to the water, then I saw the guy. He showed up just 15 meters from me, like up on a rock. And he had a large rifle and he shouted something, I think it was either: It's the police or its okay. So he tried to, you know, soothe the people and make them come to him. But he started shooting immediately, yes.
POGGIOLI: At noon today, throughout the country, Norway observed a minute of silence. Crowds flocked to the many shrines of flowers and messages that have cropped up around the city. Men and women hugged each other, many could not hold back their tears.
At the cathedral, Lutheran pastor Jan Christian Nelson assessed the national mood and tried to look forward.
Reverend JAN CHRISTIAN NELSON (Pastor): I think many are afraid now. But I think that also this makes us more conscious about the importance of talking against extreme opinions and be more aware about how things we say can be used to terrible actions.
(Soundbite of applause)
POGGIOLI: Outside the university, people applauded, as survivors of the youth camp massacre lined up to be the first to sign a National Book of Condolence.
Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Oslo.