News / Europe

Norway Mourns, Buries Massacre Victims

Norwegian Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party Jens Stoltenberg speaks to Muslims gathered at Central Jamaat Ahle Sunnat mosque in Oslo, July 29, 2011
Norwegian Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party Jens Stoltenberg speaks to Muslims gathered at Central Jamaat Ahle Sunnat mosque in Oslo, July 29, 2011

Norwegians have honored the memory of the 76 people killed in last week's bombing and shooting rampage, as the first funerals were held one week after the attacks that traumatized the country.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg led a somber national memorial service in the capital, Oslo, Friday, with members of the ruling Labor Party raising bouquets of flowers as each speaker took the stage.  Stoltenberg said the evil that hit Norway last Friday has brought out the best in its people, and called on the nation to unite around its core values of democracy and peace.  

Flags flew at half-mast across the country to mark a day of remembrance, as the first victims of the massacre were put to rest.  An 18-year-old Muslim girl, a Kurdish immigrant from Iraq, was buried in Nesodden, south of Oslo, and a 19-year-old was to be buried near Hamar, north of the capital.  The two were among 68 people shot dead at a youth camp on Utoeya island.

Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to that attack and the bomb blast in Oslo, underwent his second police interrogation Friday.  Police said the 32-year-old Norwegian remained calm during the questioning, which was to focus on whether there is any more danger following last week's killings.

While Breivik admitted responsibility for the killings, he has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.  Norway's top prosecutor, Tor-Aksel Busch, says it is possible Breivik also may be charged with crimes against humanity.

The suspect claimed to be part of a wider "crusade" against Muslim immigration and multiculturalism in Europe.  He was questioned for seven hours last Saturday, the day after the assault.  Investigators believe he acted alone after years of careful planning and have found no evidence to support his claims.

On Thursday, European Union counterterrorism experts met in Brussels to discuss ways to prevent potential copycat attacks.

The violence was the deadliest in Norway since World War II.

Domestic critics say Norwegian police were slow to respond to the shooting attack on Utoeya, where hundreds of youth activists had gathered for a ruling Labor Party retreat.

Utoeya is about 40 kilometers from Oslo, where Breivik detonated a car bomb shortly before going to the island.  The blast killed eight people and wrecked the office building of Prime Minister Stoltenberg.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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