x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Norwegian PM promises security review after massacre

Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said many European intelligence services had joined the investigation into Norway's massacre, and police 'organisation and capacity will be part of an evaluation.'

OSLO // Norway's prime minister yesterday pledged a security review after a mourning period for at least 76 people killed by a zealot in attacks that have traumatised the nation.

Jittery Norwegians tried to restore some normality five days after the bloodletting, but a security alert forced the evacuation of Oslo station, keeping nerves on edge.

Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that many European intelligence services had joined the investigation into Norway's massacre.

Police "organisation and capacity will be part of an evaluation", he said.

Confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik is said to have given varying accounts of his actions, first saying he operated alone and then telling a judge he was part of a wider network.

Norway's domestic intelligence chief said she believed Breivik was a lone operator and contested an assertion by his lawyer that his client was probably insane.

Oslo's central station was evacuated after a suspicious suitcase was found on a bus. Police said later it was harmless.

A cabinet minister made a symbolic return to her office in Oslo's government district, where Breivik detonated a home-made bomb that killed eight people on Friday.

The bomb blew a hole in Mr Stoltenberg's office. For now, he will work from the defence ministry in another area of Oslo and cabinet meetings will be held in a mediaeval fort near the waterfront. It is not clear whether the 17-storey damaged building will be rebuilt or torn down.

Mr Stoltenberg has won high opinion poll ratings from voters for his handling of the crisis, with about 80 per cent of Norwegians reckoning he has performed "extremely well", according to a survey published in the daily Verdens Gang.

The prime minister, who knew some of the victims, has caught the national mood, urging his compatriots, in a voice often cracking with emotion, to unite around democratic values.

Norwegians, unused to violence in a quiet country of 4.8 million, must now struggle with how to improve security without jeopardising the freedom and openness of their society.

"Our challenge will be to reconcile those two things," Mr Stoltenberg said, denying that Norway had been naive. "It is very important to distinguish between naivete and openness."