Norwegian police last night described the dramatic moment Anders Behring Breivik was seized, by armed officers as the country's Prime Minister announced an independent commission to investigate last Friday's attacks and promised compensation to victims' families.
Haavard Gaasbakk, the commander of the team that stormed Utoya island, recounted the momentwhen local police – backed by special forces – landed on the shoreline and heard multiple gun shots echoing from the south of the island.
"The shots were coming thick and fast," he said. "The terrain was very difficult and it was hard to get clear visibility. But as we were running we came into a clearing and suddenly in front of us there he was, the gunman, with his hands above his head."
His testimony – the first from a police officer at the scene – reveals how the 32-year-old gunman was determined to survive his rampage and avoid a fire fight with armed police.
"His weapons lay 15 metres away on the ground," Mr Gaasbakk said. "What happened next was that one of the police officers took control of the gunman and all the others ran to the victims to give first aid."
Anders Snortheimsmoen, leader of the Delta Force squad that also stormed the island, said Breivik came towards them with his hands in the air. The decision not to shoot him dead, he added, was made by a "very narrow margin" and that Breivik saved himself because he obeyed all their orders straight away.
Following a jittery morning during which Oslo's main train and bus terminal was closed after a false bomb alert, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg yesterday delivered a defiant speech in which he vowed that his country would not be intimidated by the twin attacks and would remain an open culture, even for those with controversial views.
"It's absolutely possible to have an open, democratic, inclusive society, and at the same time have security measures and not be naive," he said. "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."
Amid growing questions over whether Norway – a country with one of the world's lowest violent crime rates – was adequately prepared for Breivik's mass slaughter, the Prime Minister also announced the formation of a commission to investigate the killings.
Standing in the garden of his official residence, surrounded by politicians from across the political specturm, he said: "It's important to clarify all aspects of the attacks to learn lessons from what has occurred."
As investigations continue into the attacks, security officials are increasingly convinced that Breivik's boast to be part of an organisation with multiple cells in different countries is an elaborate fantasy.
In an interview with the BBC, Janne Kristiansen, head of Norway's domestic intelligence service, said: "We don't have indications that he has been part of a broader movement or that he has been in connection with other cells or that there are other cells."
She also said that no evidence had yet emerged that other far-right groups – including in the UK – had offered Breivik practical assistance in planning his killing spree.Reuse content