Europe

Unanswered questions in Norway tragedy

People lay flowers at Tyrifjorden Lake next to Utoeya island on 25 July 2011
Image caption There are bound to be questions over the police response to the massacre on Utoeya island

Four days after the twin terror attacks in Norway, the popular response has been restrained. It has been a display of grief rather than anger.

The lives lost sparked a massive response, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in the capital, Oslo, and across the country last night.

But it is only a matter of time before the people, politicians and the media start taking a more analytical look at what happened last Friday.

As part of such a process, difficult questions will be put to the security and emergency services.

In particular, the response by the police to the massacre at the Norwegian Labour youth camp on Utoeya island appears to have been slow.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Knut Storberget praised police for "fantastic" work after the attacks that killed at least 76 people, despite the criticisms over their apparent slow response.

"It is very important that we have an open and critical approach... but there is a time for everything," he said after talks with Oslo's police chief.

Boat rescue

Media helicopters were filming the killings from the air, long before the arrival of armed anti-terrror police officers, more than an hour after the shooting started.

Courageous boat owners were rescuing young people from drowning in the lake long before any emergency services came to their assistance.

Engine failure is said to have delayed the arrival of one commando police boat by 10 minutes. Police surveillance was apparently unavailable because of holidays.

And armed response units were tied up in Oslo, where government buildings had been blown up in an unprecedented attack.

The apparently slow response to the Utoeya massacre raises questions about whether the police were prepared well enough for a dual attack.

Known suspect

Norwegian intelligence services are also expected to come under closer scrutiny following revelations that the suspected killer, Anders Behren Breivik, was known to the authorities.

Breivik was on a security service watch list after he ordered chemicals online from a Polish company in March this year.

His name was passed to the Police Security Service (PST) by Norwegian customs.

It has also emerged that Breivik had been in touch with senior members of the UK's English Defence League, and that this contact had been revealed by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.

As yet, no-one has openly criticised the police or any other security or emergency services for any perceived shortcomings for preventing or stopping the attacks.

But explanations will nevertheless be expected soon.