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Service remembers massacre victims

Norway's King Harald has declared that freedom is stronger than fear as the country concluded a month-long mourning period with a memorial service to the 77 people killed by a right-wing extremist.

Addressing the gathering of 6,700 people in Oslo's Spektrum arena on Sunday, Harald said he felt for each person in the country, but he was certain Norway would rise above its pain.

He said: "I firmly believe that we will uphold our ability to live freely and openly in our country."

Norwegian singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfoer opened the service with a heartfelt performance of a classic Norwegian song, My Little Country, which has taken on special significance since the terror attacks in Oslo and the island of Utoya. Elsewhere in the capital, flags flew at half-mast as people lay flowers and children blew soap bubbles outside the cathedral.

The ceremony in the arena, which also hosts the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, was broadcast live on national television and was attended by Norway's prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, government members, other leading politicians and royals from neighbouring countries.

The ceremony was set to include performances by some of Norway's top musical names, including 1980s pop group A-ha, soprano Sissel Kyrkjeboe, rap group Karpe Diem and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.

Online, people from around the world joined the commemoration of the victims by participating in a campaign to write Utoya "and shine a light for democracy" on social networking site Twitter. Each time someone mentioned the name of the island on Twitter, the website added a light to a world map.

Anders Behring Breivik has admitted killing 77 people last month when he first detonated a truck bomb outside government offices in Oslo, and then went on a meticulously planned shooting spree at a youth camp at Utoya, some 25 miles away.

Breivik, 32, denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway, claiming it was aimed at purging Europe of Muslims and punishing politicians who have embraced multiculturalism.

On Saturday, some 1,000 survivors and relatives travelled to Utoya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the shootings.


From Belfast Telegraph