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In pictures: media allowed on Norway's Utoya island for first time since massacre

There were few outward signs of the brutal attack which killed 69 people at a political party youth camp in July.

Bullet holes in a cafe on Utoya where some of the victims were shot.
Bullet holes in a cafe on Utoya where some of the victims were shot.
Image: Darko Bandic/AP/Press Association Images

NORWAY OPENED THE island of Utoya to journalists for the first time today since confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik massacred 69 people at a youth camp in July, with the ruling Labour Party vowing to ensure its idyllic retreat transcends tragedy.

Police closed the island, 25 miles northwest of the capital, Oslo, after the 22 July attacks in which Breivik also set off a car bomb outside the prime minister’s office in central Oslo, killing eight people.

More than 150 journalists and photographers were participating in Monday’s visit to Utoya, a popular recreational centre owned by the ruling Labour Party, which traditionally uses it for its youth wing’s summer retreats.

Organisers said that they would gradually open the island to the public but will request that visitors respect it as the site of the killings.

In August, about 1,000 survivors and relatives travelled to Utoya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the shootings. A day earlier, there was a similar visit by 500 relatives of victims.

Donors have pledged more than $5.5 million (32 million kroner) to renovate the island, dotted with camping grounds, football fields and basketball courts, said Eskil Pedersen, leader of the Labour Party’s youth organisation.

Pederesen said that the summer camps and political meetings of the Labour Party on the island had played an important role in the country’s political history.

“The island means very much to very many people. No island in Norway has formed the political landscape more than Utoya,” Pedersen told reporters. “We have the clear aim to return to Utoya.”

He said that youth camps would resume on the island, but a decision had not yet been taken on when that would be. The party also plans a commemorative monument on the island.

There were few outward signs of the horrific attack in the small, peaceful forested island where an autumn sun shone brightly, in stark contrast to the rainy day of the shooting rampage.

Adrian Pracon, a 21-year-old survivor says reopening the island is important so that “people understand what happened there.”

Breivik has confessed to the attacks but denies criminal guilt, saying he’s in a state of war and believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe from being overrun by Muslim immigrants.

He has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest after he surrendered to the police on the island.

In pictures: media allowed on Norway's Utoya island for first time since massacre
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Associated Press

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