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One year on: Norway remembers victims of Oslo, Utoya attacks

The country’s Prime Minister said the killer had failed in his declared goal of destroying Norway’s commitment to being an inclusive society.

Norwegian King Harald, right, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, center, attend a memorial ceremony for the victims.
Norwegian King Harald, right, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, center, attend a memorial ceremony for the victims.
Image: AP Photo/NTB Scanpix, Roald Berit

NORWAY HAS PAUSED today to commemorate the 77 victims of a bomb and gun massacre that shocked the peaceful nation one year ago, a tragedy that the prime minister said had brought Norwegians together in defence of democracy and tolerance.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic, has admitted to the 22 July 2011, attacks: a bombing of the government district in Oslo, killing eight, and a shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya island.

In a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Breivik had failed in his declared goal of destroying Norway’s commitment to being an inclusive, multicultural society.

“The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway,” Stoltenberg told a sombre crowd of a few hundred people at the ceremony. “The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won.”

Tarps were still covering the windows of bomb-damaged buildings on the plaza and large cement road blocks stop all but pedestrian traffic. Mounted police and officers with bomb-sniffing dogs were on the site, but the security was not overbearing, as if to show that Norway was still an open society.

The day that rocked Norway

The police investigation showed Breivik set off a fertiliser bomb that tore the facade of the high-rise that housed the government’s headquarters, and drove toward Utoya unhindered as chaos reigned in the capital. Arriving on Utoya disguised as a police officer and armed with a handgun and assault rifle, he unleashed a shooting massacre that sent panicked teenagers fleeing into a chilly lake or hiding behind rocks to save their lives. More than half of the victims were teenagers – the youngest had turned 14 five days earlier.

Survivors were gathering for a private ceremony on the island today, while Norway’s royal family and government leaders attended a church service in Oslo, where a memorial concert was planned later in the day.

During the 10-week trial that ended in June, Breivik admitted to the attacks, but declined criminal guilt out of principle, saying the victims were traitors for embracing immigration and making Norway a multicultural society.

Prosecutors said Breivik was psychotic and should be sent to compulsory psychiatric care while Breivik’s defence lawyers argued that he was sane. The Oslo district court is set to deliver its ruling on 24 August.

More: Survivors of Breivik gun attack describe shootings>

VIDEO: 40,000 people sing Anders Behring Breivik’s most-hated song>

Explainer: how the Norwegian courts operate >

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Associated Press

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