Two Chechen teenagers who survived last month's massacre on Norway's Utoya Island said they pelted right-wing extremist Anders Breivik with stones and saved lives.
Movsar Dzhamayev, 17, and Rustam Daudov, 16, told the Norwegian Dagbladet daily that they were reminded of the war in their native Chechnya after seeing Breivik killing three people in front of their eyes on July 22.
"I have seen people being shot before in my country when I was small and had flashbacks," Dzhamayev said in the interview published late last week.
But after speaking to his father by cell phone, he pulled himself together. "My dad said, 'Attack the perpetrator and do it properly,'" he said.
With a third unidentified friend, the teens armed themselves with stones and returned to the scene only to witness Breivik killing another young camper on the island outside Oslo.
"We stood three meters from him and wanted to beat him, but then he shot one of our friends in the head. So we just threw the stones and ran for our lives," Daudov said.
While he was unsure whether he hit Breivik, Dzhamyev said he was certain he had.
"First he howled and then turned to me and shouted, "[expletive] [racial slur]," he said.
The teens said they decided that it was too difficult to stop the gunman and better to save lives. They discovered a cave-like opening in a rock where they managed to hide 23 children from Breivik, who ended up killing 69 people at the camp and eight more people in a bombing in central Oslo.
Dzhamayev, who kept guard outside, also dragged three youngsters from the lake who were close to drowning.
The two Chechens, who both live in Norway, said they first met each other at the summer camp and immediately became close friends.
Norway has a sizable population of Chechens, most of whom came as refugees from the wars that have ravaged the North Caucasus republic over the past 15 years.
Dzhamayev and Daudov are not the only Chechens reported to have survived the camp. A third, Anzor Dzhukayev, 17, was briefly arrested after the massacre on suspicion that he was an accomplice, Norwegian media reported last week.
A police spokesman said he was suspected of throwing away his gun and blending in because he showed no emotions, the Verdens Gang newspaper reported Friday.
Dzhukayev, who was released the following day, explained his coolness with his childhood experiences. "When I was little, I lived in a house full of bodies. I remember seeing dogs eating them," he was quoted in media reports as saying.