CLINGING to the edge of a cliff, Tarjei looked down in horror as a young girl was shot in the sea below him – before silence descended.
Moments later, he heard the chilling sound of a gun being reloaded before the injured girl – who was bravely attempting to climb back up the rock – was shot three more times in front of him.
It’s a moment that will haunt the now 29-year-old forever, and was just the start of his own horrific nightmare on July 22, 2011, on the island of Utøya in Norway.
Just minutes later, he was shot himself as he ran away – with the force of it sending him hurtling off the edge of a cliff and into the freezing water below.
Now, exactly ten years after the Norway attacks, he and fellow campmate Emma Martinovic, 28, recall their terrifying escapes to Sun Online to mark the day many of their friends died at the hands of a monster.
The attacks saw right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik slaughter 77 people – most of whom were teenager – in bomb and gun attacks in Oslo and Utøya, in the space of just a few hours.
After setting off an explosion in the city which killed eight people, Breivik, dressed as a police officer, demanded a ferry captain take him to the island of Utøya – before opening fire on teenagers attending the annual summer camp of the Labour party’s youth wing.
Here, Tarjei and Emma share their stories…
My thought was, ‘okay, now I’m going to die’
Tarjei Jensen Bech, 29, was 19 when he joined his friends on the island of Utøya in July 2011.
The now-deputy county mayor, from Hammerfest in northern Norway, was a camp leader representing his county at the time.
Tarjei says: “We’d heard about the explosion in Oslo that morning.
I remember I went to the building near to the ferry port to get a headset, to try to listen to the radio to hear what was going on.
I was looking for the headset when I heard what sounded like fireworks.
Then I heard screams. I went outside to check what was going on, and I saw people running.
I looked to the left and saw a man in police uniform, with one person laying on the ground and another standing near.
Suddenly the other person got what looked like an electric shock and fell right into the ground.
I started to run up a hill and into the camp… There were a lot of people around and I was trying to tell them to run, but it was like my body was frozen by ice.
Suddenly we saw the same policeman come over the hill towards the camp, and he was going towards a volunteer.
It looked like they were having a small conversation. Then I saw him pull up a gun and started shooting this person.
It was panic. Everyone was running everywhere.
I ran towards the woods, over a fence, and got under a cliff edge. There was a girl who was in the same county as me, so I knew her.
I remember she asked me if it was a drill, and I said no. I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a bad dream.
We were hiding under the cliff. At one point we could hear his footsteps and his breath right over us.
I remember this one girl who was running in the water below us and then she got hit by a bullet in her back.
She fell against a rock in the water. She was climbing towards the rock and it suddenly got all quiet.
We heard the sound of someone reloading a rifle, and then he shot her once, twice and on the third time she was no longer climbing. We knew that she was dead.
It was awful. I just remember this picture of the water around her turned red.
I can’t remember how long we waited, but suddenly we could see him on the left side of us.
I saw the police mark on his back, and I told the girl I was with that we had to run… If he turned, he’d see us.
I remember hearing a big rocket sound, a gun or rifle shot. I don’t remember this but I was hit by a bullet in the bottom of my left leg.
I obviously lost control of my leg and fell off the cliff. I remember I saw the bottom coming closer and closer.
My thought was, ‘okay, now I’m going to die’. Then it turned all black. I think I fell about 10 or 15 metres.
I woke up in the water. It was really quiet and my first thought was, ‘yes, I’m alive’.
I was in a lot of pain… I’d broken two bones in my leg and a bone in my cheek. The gunshot wound was huge, around 12cm. He’d used a bullet that breaks up when it hits flesh.
I have a small memory of someone pulling me up the shore a little.
One person saw me and one of the girls laid next to me to give me warmth from her skin… I remember another of them took off a piece of my clothing and ripped it apart to use on my wound.
They saved my life, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.
My group eventually saw a private boat nearby which came on to the shore and lifted me onto the deck. They took me to the mainland and I was put in an ambulance.
I remember the ambulance worker said to me, ‘now you’re safe’. That was a really good feeling – I did feel safe then.”
Tarjei was rushed to Ringerike Hospital nearby, before being flown to the University Hospital in Tromso for surgery – with extensive injuries to his leg where he was shot, as well as his cheek from hitting the water.
He’s had to have 30 surgeries in the years since, and couldn’t walk for months after the attack – only managing to take a step in the September.
But it didn’t stop him facing Breivik in court during his trial – which he says has given him the security he needed, knowing he can’t hurt him anymore.
“I lost some friends on the island,” he says. “I had nightmares, I’ve been afraid. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD.
“It’s probably a bad comparison, but I read Sir Alex Ferguson’s book. He said, while talking about football, even in your weak periods you’re showing strength.
“It’s like fighting back. You can be a stronger person than you were.”
‘He started shooting at us… I just remember people screaming’
Like Tarjei, Emma Martinovic, 28, who was 18 at the time of the attack, was a county leader for the summer camp.
The mum-of-two from Vest-Agder, now Agder county, who is now an officer worker in her local police station, lost many of her friends on July 22.
Emma says: “We heard about the explosion in Oslo but it felt safe on the island.
I had to go down to the tent to get a charger for my phone that morning, when suddenly the friend I was with said, ‘you have to run’.
People were pushing, we were a huge group of people running through the woods.
I saw a close friend who was trying to climb down towards the water, inside a sort of wall. I followed him and I thought we had a really good place.
You can see from the top, if you look directly down, but that’s it.
I saw a body in the water at one point. It was a boy who had been holding on to the cliff, and as I now know, he got shot and fell down.
He was laying on his back, with his eyes looking up.
He had a black hoodie on, so I put the hood over his eyes. He was dead at this point so there was nothing I could do.
I messaged the leader of the organisation, asking what was happening, and all I got in response was ‘you have to swim’.
Everyone jumped in… it made a lot of noise, and that’s when he showed up at the top.
Before I started to swim, I put my phone and my bank card in my bra. I thought if I drowned, someone could identify me.
I texted my family and told them, ‘there’s shooting on the island, I’m going to swim now, I love you forever and ever’.
I was swimming away and when I turned onto my back, that’s when I saw him there on the top.
He started shooting at all of us then. I just remember a lot of noise and a lot of people screaming.
He was shooting into the water, and me and two other girls got hit with fragments of bullets…
When they hit the water, they slowed down and exploded, so I got some small particles in my left hand.
But at the time, I didn’t see it or feel it. I just felt a warm sort of feeling.
He said he saw his father get killed and said, ‘I thought police officers were good people’.
A little boy was swimming up to me at one point. He was the son of the police officer that was killed on the island.
He was 11 years old and he asked me what was happening. I told him, ‘nothing, just keep swimming’.
He said he saw his father get killed and said, ‘I thought police officers were good people’.
I didn’t have the energy to respond, so I told him to swim and he could hold on to my back if he got tired. He held on around my neck.
When I saw the boat coming, I swam ahead to check it was safe. When we saw other survivors onboard we knew it was.
I had a mini operation on my hand and a few stitches, I’m really blessed for that.
In those first few weeks, I was so far away from my emotions. There were so many funerals and ceremonies for my friends.
For me, my hardest time was five or six months after. I got a pause from everything, and then my emotions just overwhelmed me.
I had anxiety, panic and nightmares – a lot of nightmares. I had to go to a trauma therapist and that helped a lot. I was really lucky.
I’m okay now, but the days before every anniversary are hard. I can feel it on my body.
I have returned to the island twice since – I felt it was something I had to do for my recovery.”
Breivik eventually surrendered on the island and told police he was the commander of a secret Christian military order plotting an anti-Muslim revolution in Europe.
Cops later found the gunman’s chilling “manifesto”, declaring war on Muslims and vowing to bring down Western society in over 1,500 hate-filled pages.
In 2012 a court sentenced him to 21 years in jail.