Norway PM: Attacks response to be 'more democracy'

By Karl Ritter

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, July 27 2011 12:01 p.m. MDT

Norway's Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg pauses during a press conference in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Norway's prime minister struck a defiant tone Wednesday, saying the response to twin attacks that have rocked his country will be "more democracy."

Emilio Morenatti, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

OSLO, Norway — Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg vowed Wednesday that his countrymen will fight back against the twin terror attacks that have rocked the nation with "more democracy" and promised an independent commission to investigate the massacre and help survivors and relatives cope with the aftermath.

Police have come under close scrutiny over how they handled the bombing in Oslo's government quarter and the shooting spree on an island youth camp that together left at least 76 people dead, in particular how long it took them to reach the island.

The commission is important "to be able to clear up all questions about the attack in order to learn from what happened," including what worked well and what didn't, and to offer a full report to survivors and victims, Stoltenberg told reporters.

Parliament agreed to earmark an unspecified amount of money to cover some of the funeral costs, he said. A national memorial will also be created.

"Nothing of what we today have decided to do will bring back those that lost their lives on Utoya and in the government district, but we hope that these measures, and other things we will do later on, will help make a difficult time a little bit less difficult," he said.

Stoltenberg struck a defiant note Wednesday, insisting that the brutal killings would not change Norway's tolerant way of life — and would only encourage further openness. Norwegians will defend themselves by showing they are not afraid of violence and by participating more broadly in politics, he told reporters at an earlier press conference.

Anders Behring Breivik, an ardent opponent of multiculturalism, has confessed to the attacks, saying he was trying to save the Western world from Muslim colonization.

"It's absolutely possible to have an open, democratic, inclusive society, and at the same time have security measures and not be naive," Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg defended freedom of thought even if includes extremist views such as those held by the 32-year-old Breivik.

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

"I think what we have seen is that there is going to be one Norway before and one Norway after July 22," he said. "But I hope and also believe that the Norway we will see after will be more open, a more tolerant society than what we had before."

The vicious attacks in the placid, liberal country have left Norwegians appalled and shaky, but determined to move forward. Some government workers were planning to return to work in their offices in the buildings where the bomb blasts blew out most windows.

Denmark said Wednesday a 43-year-old Danish woman, Hanne Balch Fjalestad, had died in the attacks, marking the first confirmed foreign death. She was working as a first aid medic at Utoya island. She leaves behind four children, including a 20-year-old daughter, Anna, who survived the island shooting.

Police also released 13 new names of victims, one of whom, 51-year-old Anne Lise Holter, worked at the prime minister's office in finance administration and was among the eight people killed in the government quarter bombing.

Others on the list were all killed in the rampage at the Labor Party youth retreat. They include 14-year old Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn from Drammen, west of Oslo, as well as police officer Trond Berntsen — Crown Princess Mette-Marit's 51-year old stepbrother. Berntsen was shot when providing security on the island.

Earlier, the leader of Norway's Delta Force defended the special operations team, saying the breakdown of a boat didn't cause a significant delay in efforts to reach the island.

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