Norway remembers 77 killed in massacre

The memorial at the Spektrum Arena in central Oslo will be attended by the families of victims.

Oslo: Flags flew at half-staff as people lay flowers and children blew soap bubbles outside the cathedral in Norway`s capital Sunday to pay tribute to the 77 people killed in last month`s bombing and shooting massacre by a right-wing extremist.

A memorial service later in the day will mark the end of a month of mourning in the Scandinavian country that was shocked by the attacks in what is a prosperous and generally tolerant and tranquil society.

The memorial at the Spektrum Arena in central Oslo, which also hosts the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, will be broadcast live on national television and will be attended by the families of victims and survivors of the July 22 car bombing and shooting spree.

Norway`s King Harald and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will address the ceremony, to be attended by government members, lawmakers and leading politicians and royals from neighboring countries.

The ceremony includes 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. Two classic Norwegian songs that have a special meaning for many after the terror attacks will open and end the ceremony — the 1990s song "My Little Country" and "For The Youth," based on a poem by 20th century Norwegian poet Nordahl Grieg.

Elsewhere in Oslo, flowers were laid outside the cathedral Sunday morning, and the bubble-blowing was taken up by some as a tribute to lives that ended before their time.

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 on the island of Utoya, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) 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.

Breivik was arrested on Utoya 90 minutes after he began his deadly attack. Earlier this week, an Oslo court extended his isolation detention by another four weeks.

On Saturday, some 1,000 survivors and relatives traveled to Utoya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the scenes of the shootings. Their visit followed a similar one Friday by 500 relatives of the deceased.

One of the survivors, Stine Renate Haaheim, said her feelings ranged from emptiness and extreme grief to joy when she returned on Saturday to the island, used as a recreational center by Norway`s ruling Labor Party.

On Monday, many Norwegian children go back school after their summer break, many to face the empty seats of the friends they lost in the tragedy.

Bureau Report

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