When Anders Behring Breivik launched his assault on the youth campers of Utoya Island, he expected Norway's special forces to swoop down and stop him at any minute.

Instead, Delta Force police officers made the 25-mile (40km) journey by car — they did not have a helicopter — then had to be rescued by a civilian craft when their boat broke down as it tried to navigate a one-minute hop to the island.

It took police more than 90 minutes to reach the gunman, who by then had mortally wounded 68 people. Breivik immediately dropped his guns and surrendered, having exceeded his wildest murderous expectations.

As Oslo's police force sounds an increasingly defensive note, international experts said that Norway's government and security forces must learn stark lessons from a massacre made worse by a lackadaisical approach to planning for terror.

Survivors said they struggled to get their panicked pleas heard because operators on emergency lines were rejecting calls not connected to the Oslo bomb. When police finally realised a gunman was shooting teens and 20-somethings attending a youth retreat on the island, Breivik had already been hunting them down for half an hour. In a final act of bungling, police on Monday revised the island death toll down to 68, after initially miscounting the bodies at 86.

The island's lone part-time security guard was among the first people he killed.

That could be difficult in a country renowned for a culture of openness that has led to jaw-dropping security lapses in the past. Norway's most infamous crimes before July 22 involved the 1994 and 2004 thefts of artworks by its best-known painter, Edvard Munch. Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, said Norway has been victimised in the same way as all countries caught off guard by terror.

Police spokesman Sturla Henriksbo said Norway, a country spanning some 1,100 miles (1,750 kilometers) in length, with about 50,000 islands, has only one police helicopter, based at an airport north of Oslo. — AP


Norway mass killer claims self-defence April 16, 2012

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