Norway police face questions over attacks response

July 28, 2011

By CNN Wire Staff

Norway’s police are facing tough questions over their response to last Friday’s terror attacks, in which 76 people died.

First, Oslo was rocked by a huge blast outside government buildings, which left eight people dead. Less than two hours later, a gunman reached Utoya island, some 20 miles away, and proceeded to fire on the mostly teenage participants of a political summer camp for well over an hour.

Reporters, particularly from the foreign press, have asked why it took an hour from the police first being alerted for armed officers to arrest the suspect, 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik.

Among their questions have been why a helicopter was not used to take elite officers to the scene, rather than them travelling by road, and whether problems with a police boat — which meant civilian vessels had to be commandeered — delayed the response.

Some have also asked whether the response to the bombing in the Norwegian capital took priority over the Utoya alert, with emergency phone operators and resources already tied up as frantic calls started to come in from young people under fire on the island.

Sissel Hammer, chief of police for the Nordre Buskerud district, which covers Utoya, told reporters Wednesday that her officers and members of an elite police unit had done their best to get to the island quickly.

“I don’t think we had any chance to be there faster than we made it,” she said.

Responding to the situation in Utoya was “the highest priority” for local police, and was not affected by events in Oslo, she said.

Her staff had done a “very demanding job” both during and after the event, she added.

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