San Diegans in Norway during terror attacks - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diegans in Norway during terror attacks

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - As the world tries to make sense of the terror attacks in Norway, we are hearing from some San Diegans who were in the country during the massacre.

Annika Kovtun lives in Pacific Beach, but she was born and raised in Norway. That's where she is now with her two sons, grateful to be safe, but grieving for others.

"Everyone is just quite in disbelief," she said.

Annika is vacationing in the country where she was born because her 10- and 12-year-old sons are attending camp there.

"People are sad, you know, they are in shock and it's sad," she said.

Rather than focus attention on mass murder suspect Anders Breivik, Annika hopes the world is inspired by the strength of Norway.

"You see how the people react to and how the Norwegians react and it makes me really proud to be a Norwegian, because everyone is very calm and collected and there is no panic," she said.

Just two days before the attack, Annika was in Oslo one block away from where the car bomb went off.

"You know I think anything can happen to anyone at any time wherever you are," she said.

Annika's husband Gordon Kovtun is the honorary Norwegian consul in San Diego, and describes when he heard about a political camp with young adults under assault.

"There were quite a few minutes where I was very panicky," Gordon said.

After he learned his family was safe, he wrote a sympathy letter to Norway's prime minister.

"We are mourning their loss just as they are mourning their loss," he said.

Although Breivik says he wanted to save Europe from Muslim immigration, Annika doesn't feel her peaceful country is intolerant of Muslims.

"I think all of Europe has issues and struggles with a lot of things," she said.

If anything, Annika believes Norway will embrace diversity more than ever, because citizens refuse to be broken by terror.

"Well I think that most of us just think that he was a completely insane person," Annika said.

Breivik's own attorney thinks that's probably the case as well. Despite Breivik's claims that more attacks will follow, Annika says she won't hesitate to return to her homeland.

"No, I don't feel any less safe than I have ever been here. We can't let one lunatic change that," she said.

Annika says she doesn't know any of the victims or their families, but says Norway is such a tight-knit community, she suspects that will change when police release all of the names of the victims.

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