World Bulletin / News Desk
Norwegian police and security services could have prevented all or part of an attack by far-right militant Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bombing and gun massacre last year, a government commission said on Monday.
Intelligence services could have learned about Breivik's plans months before the attack made him the worst mass killer in Norway's peacetime history, the commission's report said.
The government building he bombed should have been better protected and he should have been stopped before he gunned down dozens of victims, mostly teenagers, on an island as police struggled to find a working helicopter and a suitable boat.
"All in all, July 22 revealed serious shortfalls in society's emergency preparedness and ability to avert threats," the commission said.
"The challenges turned out to be ascribable to leadership and communication to a far greater extent than to the lack of response personnel," it said.
Breivik first detonated a fertiliser car bomb outside government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people, then travelled to the ruling Labour Party's summer camp on Utoeya island where he gunned down 69 victims unimpeded.
Authorities had become aware of his suspicious activities months before when he purchased items thatcould be used to make bombs but intelligence service failures meant he was not put on a watch list, thecommission said in the 482-page report.
The government building should have been much better protected as it had been identified as a security risk years before. But government squabbling over minor details of the security measures needed meant little was done.
Once the bombing took place, a witness's description of Breivik, which was phoned into police, was not passed on to officers in the field for 20 minutes.
Police should have automatically activated drills meant to guard against multiple attacks but weak leadership and disorganisation led to delays, the report said.
The military was not immediately informed, police could not find the helicopter, and its boat, intended to transport special forces to the island, could not carry the necessary load.
"The authorities' ability to protect the people on Utoeya island failed. A more rapid police operation was a realistic possibility. The perpetrator could have been stopped earlier on 22 July," the commission said.
Breivik admits the attacks but denies criminal guilt, claiming to be a political activist who attacked the ruling party for its support of Muslim immigration, which he says has adulterated pure Norwegian blood.
His 10-week trial ended in June and a court is expected to deliver its verdict on August 24, with prosecutors asking the five judges to declare Breivik insane.
If deemed insane, he faces indefinite mental care in a facility inside a maximum security prison while if ruled sane, he faces a 21-year prison sentence with the possibility of indefinite extensions.
The commission's finding are a major embarrassment for security forces but the justice minister and security chief at the time have both resigned since the attack while many of the senior police personnel involved have also been replaced.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday he took ultimate responsibility for the intelligence and police failures, after the publication of the report.
"It took too long to apprehend the perpetrator and the police should have been on Utoeya earlier. This is something I regret," he said.
"The A.U. has not taken such a decision," Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati said in a Tuesday statement.
Obama faced with the delicate task of assuring Japan and other regional allies of America's commitment to their defence without hurting ties with China.
The Patriarch of the Egyptian Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II is said to have advised Pope Mathias to postpone the visit.
U.S. will send 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt. Shipment was delayed after the Egyptian military overthrew the democratically elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
Speaking at a meeting with a Fatah-led delegation in Gaza City, Haniyeh accused the United States and Israel of seeking to undermine the Palestinian cause.
More Syrian soldiers killed in conflicts between the Free Syrian Army and Bashar al-Assad's regime forces.
In Lebanon, the post of president must be filled by a Maronite Christian for a term of six years, according to the country's national charter.
In February, the Libyan parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), agreed to hold early elections, in an apparent effort to assuage Libyans frustrated at political chaos
The United Nations accused the rebels of hunting down men, women and children a week ago in a hospital, church and mosque in the capital of the oil-producing Unity state and then killing them
U.N. experts, charged with monitoring compliance with a sanctions regime including an arms embargo, said diamonds are being exported from Ivory Coast in breach of the ban
Chlorine gas that was never included on the list submitted to the OPCW is now allegedly being used on the battlefield, leading some countries to consider requesting an investigation
Russia has staked its future economic growth on developing the Arctic's vast energy resources and reviving a Soviet-era shipping route through the ice
Some of the men were tried in absentia, said activist Mohammed al-Maskati. It was not clear how many of them were actually jailed.
Increased activity had been seen in a six-week period from early March to April 19, including in an area where there were two completed tunnels
Expedition leaders said tension was running high at Everest base camp after incident, which has rekindled debate on the disproportionate risks that sherpas take helping foreign mountaineers
Parliament has been summoned to choose a successor to President Michel Suleiman, whose six-year term ends in late May, but deep divisions over the war in neighbouring Syria could delay any decision