Norway PM forming commission into attacks

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg says his government will appoint an independent commission to examine last week's massacre that left 76 people dead, as police announce their own inquiry into their response.

Shooting survivor says island was 'horrendous sight' after attacks

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday that he gives little thought to the perpetrator of last week's Oslo-area massacre and is far more concerned about the victims. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday his government will appoint an independent commission to examine last week's massacre, as Norwegian police announced they too will launch an inquiry into their response.

Stoltenberg said the investigation — known as the 22nd of July Commission, after the date on which 32-year-old unemployed Anders Behring Breivik bombed a government building and then shot up a youth camp, killing 76 people — will look into the "whole scale of the attacks" and be a complete overview of what happened.

"My goal is to get a result very quickly, within a year, and for the report to be put before the parliament," Stoltenberg told reporters in his second news conference of the day.

"I think it's important for families and all those affected that it's a complete inquiry, and it will help them with the crisis and help them deal with the big questions along with the little questions." 

Earlier, Norwegian police said they will launch an internal inquiry into their response to the deadly attacks, after acknowledging delays in reaching the island near Oslo where Breivik killed 68 people at the youth camp in a 90-minute rampage. 

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During a news conference Wednesday, the local police force responsible for the area around Utoya Island told reporters that the first boat they tried to use to transport officers to the island had engine problems. Police called in additional boats to take them to the island. 

Police have already acknowledged Breivik was firing on the island for 90 minutes before officers arrived and arrested him without resistance. On Tuesday, police admitted the one helicopter they had for the region was not used because the pilots and crew were all on vacation.

'Horrendous sight'

Tore Sinding Bekkedal was at the youth camp on Utoya Island during the attack. He was in the washroom when the shooting broke out, and initially thought someone was playing a prank.

When he emerged, friends signalled that he shouldn't venture out any farther. 

"They were signalling me to stop and there was absolutely no question that this was serious," he told CBC's Connect with Mark Kelley.

He said he thought of running outside, but was stopped by a cafeteria volunteer. They hunkered down and waited out the shooting.

Bekkedal said the time before police arrived were "some of the worst minutes of my life."

"I knew there were wounded people outside in the hallway, I was desperately trying to reach the emergency services, just to try to get some help to them" he said.

Bekkedal said bodies lined the path as he walked out after the attack.

'It was a horrendous sight," he said.

He credited the emergency services with saving his life, but said there will come a time to examine the response.

"The entire country — and myself included — feels that this is just a time for nothing but grief, nothing but mourning and nothing but caring for the victims," he said.

Julie Bremnes, 16, also survived the attack. She sent streams of text messages to her mother as she scrambled for cover during the attack.

Haavard Gaasbakk, one of the first officers to arrive, described the scene as a "conveyor belt" of victims and said members of the public brought their own boats to the island to help transport the injured to the mainland.

The officer also described discovering the gunman in a clearing with his hands above his head, his weapons about 50 metres away. He said Breivik was subdued "in a normal fashion" and left with one officer while others immediately ran to give first aid to victims.  

PM gives little thought to suspect

In an earlier news conference, Stoltenberg said he doesn't spend much time thinking about the perpetrator of the two deadly attacks and instead focuses his attention on the victims of the violence.

"I'm actually not thinking about the man. I'm thinking about the results of the acts he committed," Stoltenberg told reporters.

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He described the acts as "horrifying" and said he's been able to "create some distance to that man."

Stoltenberg said he will focus on those who have lost loved ones and help those who are still in hospital, recovering from injuries.

Asked whether the attack means some laws may need tightening up, he said he would welcome a debate on that after the investigation is complete.

Stoltenberg repeated what he said in an interview Tuesday with CBC News — that Norwegians are adamant that their country must remain an open and democratic society and that any new security measures will need to be balanced against that need.

"We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions that [are] completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence," he said.

The prime minister said he felt the assaults were an attack on "the Norwegian model, the Norwegian democracy, our political system."

Breivik, who espouses extremist anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views, confessed to the massacre in court on Monday, and later told his lawyer that he was part of an organization with two cells in Norway and several in other Western countries.  

But Norway's domestic intelligence chief told CBC News that it's "highly unlikely" that the suspect has cells in the country.

Janne Kristiansen said that after four days, investigators don't have any evidence of other cells in Norway. Kristiansen said while it's possible, she thought it highly unlikely. She said she believes Breivik wants to keep the focus on himself and be in the limelight.

Kristiansen also rejected assertions by Breivik's lawyer, Geir Lippestad, that his client is probably insane.

"I have been a defence lawyer before, and in my opinion this is clearly a sane person because he has been too focused for too long and he has been doing things so correctly," she told the BBC.

"In my experience of having had these sorts of clients before, they are normally quite normal but they are quite twisted in their minds, and this person in addition is total evil."

Breivik has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, maintaining he was trying to save Europe from "Muslim colonization."

Norwegian news agency NTB said police detonated explosives at Breivik's farm about 160 kilometres north of Oslo on Tuesday. Breivik said in his manifesto that he had rented the farm and created a fake business there as cover for ordering six tonnes of fertilizer — an integral component of the deadly bomb he detonated outside government headquarters in Oslo.

Stoltenberg's office was the target of Friday's bomb blast, and it was his Labour Party's youth wing that came under attack in the shooting rampage that claimed dozens of lives.

With files from The Associated Press