Norway to Set Up Commission to Investigate Attacks

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg says his government will set up an independent commission to investigate the shooting and bomb attack that killed at least 76 people last week.

Mr. Stoltenberg said Wednesday it is important to investigate all aspects of Friday's twin attacks by a Norwegian ultranationalist to learn from what happened. At a news conference, the prime minister promised to review the performance of Norway's security services after a period of national mourning for the victims.

Domestic critics say Norwegian police were slow to respond to the shooting attack that killed at least 68 people on the southern island of Utoeya, where hundreds of youth activists had gathered for a ruling Labor Party retreat.

Utoeya is about 40 kilometers from the capital, Oslo, where the confessed killer, Anders Behring Breivik, had detonated a car bomb shortly before going to the island. The blast killed eight people and wrecked Mr. Stoltenberg's office building.

One of the first policemen to arrive on Utoeya said Wednesday the 32-year-old gunman surrendered by raising his hands above his head as soon as the squad yelled that “armed police” were approaching him.

Specialized police officers drove from Oslo and used boats to reach Utoeya because it was considered faster than using a helicopter. The first boat that the squad tried to use broke down.

In his news conference, Mr. Stoltenberg said Norway will not be intimidated by the attacks and predicted his nation will become a more democratic, open society with broader public participation in politics. He also said extreme political views are legitimate in Norwegian society, but implementing them violently is not.

Breivik faces terrorism charges for the attacks, which he says were aimed at saving Europe's Christian heritage from what he calls “Muslim colonization.” An Oslo court ruled Monday that the suspect should be detained for eight weeks as police investigate his actions. Friday's violence was the deadliest in Norway since World War II.