Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Norway remembers victims on first anniversary of bomb, shooting attacks

OSLO, Norway — Norway on Sunday paused 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 defense of democracy and tolerance.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic, has admitted to the July 22, 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 somber crowd of a few hundred people. "The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won."

Tarps are 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 Sunday, but the security was not overbearing, as if to show that Norway was still an open society.

The police investigation showed Breivik set off a fertilizer 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 semi-automatic rifle, he unleashed a shooting massacre.

Survivors and families of victims gathered for a private ceremony on the island. Eskil Pedersen, a survivor of the massacre and the head of the Labor Party's youth chapter, urged the crowd to renew their commitment to a diverse and egalitarian society.

"Today we remember those who were killed. Tomorrow we continue the fight for what they believed in," Pedersen said.

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