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Norway police "sorry" for slow response to Breivik massacre

Police Commissioner Oeystein Maeland says lives could have been saved

Norway police sorry 12 03 15Enlarge
Committee leader Olav Soenderland, Police Director Oeystein Maeland and Oslo Chief of Police Anstein Gjengedal attend a press conference in Oslo on March 15, 2012 following the publication of an evaluation report on the police response to the July 22 twin attacks. The Norwegian police apologised for failing to stop Anders Behring Breivik sooner on his shooting rampage that left dozens dead. (Erlend Aas/AFP/Getty Images)

Norwegian police have apologized for their response to attacks in July 2011 that left 77 people dead, admitting that lives could have been saved.

AFP says that the national police commissioner Oeystein Maeland has presented an evaluation report on the incidents.

“On behalf of the Norwegian police I want to apologize that we did not arrest Anders Behring Breivik sooner,” Maeland is quoted as saying in a statement, adding: “It is hard, knowing that so many lives could have been spared if the perpetrator had been arrested sooner.”

Sixty-nine people were killed when Behring Breivik, 33, opened fire on a summer camp on the island of Utoya on July 22, while eight others lost their lives to a bomb he set off out government buildings in Oslo a short time earlier.

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Many Norwegians, including the victims' families, have strongly criticized the police for their slow response, Reuters says, complaining that too many police officers were on holiday and that no helicopter was ready to dispatch.

The report says that it took over one-and-a-half hours to arrest Breivik, saying that a collapse in communication and a police boat so overloaded with officers that it took on water were key factors in the delay.

"Could police have been faster? The answer is yes," Maeland told reporters, according to Associated Press.

The BBC quotes Unni Espeland Marcussen, whose 16-year old daughter Andrine was among the victims: "I think it's good that they're self-critical. We've waited for a long time for an apology," she said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120315/norway-police-sorry-slow-response-breivik-massacre