An independent commission tasked with drawing conclusions about the handling of the twin Norway attacks in July 2011 sharply criticized the police efforts, saying the bombing in Oslo could have been prevented.
“The attack on the government complex on 22 July could have been prevented through effective implementation of already adopted security measures,” the commission said in the report submitted to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
“The perpetrator (Anders Behring Breivik) could have been stopped earlier on 22 July,” it said.
“The authorities’ ability to protect the people on Utøya island failed. A more rapid police operation was a realistic possibility,” it concluded in reference to the second attack.
On July 22, 2011, Breivik set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people, before going to Utøya, north-west of the capital, where he spent more than an hour gunning down another 69 people, mostly teenagers, and wounding others.
The victims, the youngest of whom had just celebrated her 14th birthday, had been attending a summer camp hosted by the governing Labour Party’s youth organization.
The Norwegian police have been harshly criticized for their slow response to the tragedy: more than three hours passed between the Oslo bombing and Breivik’s arrest on Utøya, even though his name was already known to Norway’s security services.
The Utøya shooting lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, as police struggled to find transport to the small island located on a lake, just 600 metres from shore.