Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) reported Sunday that it had received “new information” that indicated the threat of a terrorist attack in Norway was “somewhat reduced” from the level the country faced last week. Police intend to maintain preparedness at high levels, though, at least through Monday.
PST chief Benedicte Bjørnland said at an afternoon press briefing in Oslo that the “new information” was “quite sensitive and classified,” so she refused to answer questions about its source, nature or content. “Based on it, we can say that the threat is somewhat reduced,” Bjørnland told reporters.
Odd Reidar Humlegård, director of Norway’s state police, called PST’s new evaluation “a good development” but told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “we will at any rate maintain the (currently high) preparedness level mostly through tomorrow (Monday).”
Bjørnland added that PST’s new information came from both national and international sources and that she was “guardedly positive” about the threat reduction. “It is still an unspecific threat,” she said. “It is still unclear, but it’s going in the right direction, downwards, in regards to the threat level.”
Questions have continued to arise through the weekend over how long Norway can maintain the unusually high level of preparedness that’s been in effect since the threat of a terrorist attack was first announced Thursday morning. Police have been called in from their summer holidays, heavily armed patrols are visible on the streets and at all large public events, helicopters have greatly shortened response times and have been flying over the capital, the air space over downtown Bergen has been closed and military forces are standing by to cooperate with police on anti-terror activities. Special controls are in place at border crossings, oil platforms are on alert and several museums and landmarks believed to be terrorist targets, such as Oslo City Hall, the Royal Palace in Oslo and the Parliament Building have been closed to the public until further notice.
Readiness maintained ‘as long as necessary’
Humlegård said at a press briefing on Saturday that the security level would be maintained “as long as necessary” and that neither budgets nor funding were a problem. “We have the capacity to maintain this level (of preparedness) for quite awhile,” Humlegård said, and if or when the police need reinforcements, the military was on call. Special arrangements have been made for the military and police to cooperate, with the police in charge of coordination.
Humlegård, who seemed positive and upbeat both Saturday and Sunday, claimed he was “very, very satisfied” with the police anti-terror operation so far and that police were also still responding to “everyday crime.” He expressed relief on Saturday that it had been a quiet night, as the capital sweltered in record-high temperatures.
“We won’t use any more (economic resources) than we need,” Humlegård added, and called once again on the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious. He called the public “the greatest detectives” and that the police needed their “eyes and ears.”