Tuesday 21 November 2017

Tears for Norway dead as survivors return to island

Richard Orange in Utvika, Norway

A year after Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Norway, the young survivors of his rampage returned to the island of Utoya yesterday to remember those who died.

Memorial services, church ceremonies and concerts took place across Norway to pay tribute to those who died in the country's worst attack since World War Two. Many of the survivors were back on the island for the second or third time since the attacks, but it was still difficult for some.

"A lot of people were crying," said Per Kristian Rokkum Berget, one of the survivors, as he returned from Utoya.

"Wherever someone had been killed they laid down roses and candles and a card. So when someone found a place with someone they knew, of course they cried."

Breivik began the attack with a bomb at government buildings in the capital Oslo, which killed eight people and injured more than 200.

He then drove, disguised as a policeman, to a Labour party youth camp on the island, where he shot dead a further 69. Most were teenagers, the youngest 14.


Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's prime minister, called on the 1,000 young mourners to fight against extreme ideologies like Breivik's."For a long time we have neglected extremism and these thoughts full of hate," he said. "We can't close our eyes to them any more. We should counter blind hate with argument and education."

The anniversary events began yesterday morning when Mr Stoltenberg and King Harald of Norway laid a wreath at the government building, which is still wrapped in plastic to mask windows shattered by the blast.

A memorial service attended by more than 900 people was held in Oslo Cathedral.

"The bomb and bullets were aimed at changing Norway," Mr Stoltenberg said at the wreath-laying.

"The Norwegian people responded by embracing our values. The killer failed, the people won."

Earlier, nearly 500 people from the victims' families were ferried by boats to Utoya island to mourn their loved ones and release a heart-shaped balloon. (Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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