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Gunman waited for the police with hands on his head

Anders Behring Breivik was standing with his hands held above his head in surrender when police finally caught up with him.

One of the first officers to arrive on the island of Utoya described yesterday the moment the mass murderer was arrested, and said that Breivik put up no resistance.

Haavard Gaasbakk said the 32-year-old had abandoned his weapons and was standing waiting for police as they ran through the woods to apprehend him.

However, Anders Snortheimsmoen, commander of the Norwegian Delta team of special counter-terror police, admitted that his officers nearly shot Breivik dead, despite his passive stance, because they feared he was wearing an explosive belt.

The decision was made by a "very narrow margin", he said.

Norwegian police have been heavily criticised over the speed of their response to the Utoya shootings.

Outlining the moment of Breivik's capture for the first time, Mr Gaasbakk told how he was on a day off when he got an urgent call to go to Utoya, as police had begun receiving reports of shots being fired.

He joined one other policeman and eight armed policemen from the Delta unit as they took boats to the island.

There they found a group of terrified teenagers pointing toward the other end of the island.

"We heard a lot of gunshots coming fast and thick," he said. "All of us ran toward the south part of the island where we knew the gunman was shooting.

"The terrain was very difficult and it was difficult to get clear visibility, but as we were running we came to a clearing in the forest and suddenly, in front of us, there he was -- the gunman, with his hands above his head, straight in front of us. We apprehended him in the normal manner. His weapons lay 50 metres away on the ground."

Mr Gaasbakk returned to the island's jetty to set up a command post and assigned officers to check for other gunmen and carry on with first aid.

"There was a stream of young people coming to me and police officers carrying wounded," he said. "Members of the public started to come over in their own boats to try to evacuate everybody. The wounded came like on a conveyor belt."

The final toll of Breivik's victims could rise to 77 after police disclosed that one person was still missing. In addition to the 68 known dead on the island, eight were killed by a bomb planted by Breivik in central Oslo.

A mini submarine is being used to search the lake on which the island stands. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent