Norway mourns victims at memorial service

Prime minister, king and queen lead country in period of national bereavement for those who died in attacks.

    Norway's prime minister and the royal family have attended a memorial service for those who lost their lives in Friday's bombing and subsequent shooting attack.

    The memorial on Sunday was held just a few hundred metres from where the massive bomb exploded in Oslo, killing seven people. At least 86 other people were gunned down on the Norwegian island of Utoya after the bombing.

    Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was joined by King Harald V, Queen Sonja and other dignitaries to honour the dead.

    Stoltenberg said that the attacks would not force Norway to "abandon its values".

    He said the "scale of the evil" would only fully emerge when the names and photographs of the mostly teenaged victims were published.

    At the emotion-filled service, Stoltenberg wiped his face with a handkerchief and told the hushed congregation that despite the tragedy Norway would demonstrate "more democracy, more openness, more humanity, but without naivete".

    He and the leader of the Labour Party's youth group, Eskil Pedersen, each laid a white rose near a sea of flowers in an improvised shrine beforehand.

    But as harrowing testimony emerged from the summer camp where scores of youngsters were mowed down, Norway struggled to understand how a country famed as a beacon of peace could experience such bloodshed on its soil.

    "Many of those who have died were friends," Stoltenberg said. "I know their parents and it happened at a place where I spent a long time as a young person ... It was a paradise of my youth that has now been turned into hell."

    As soon as Breivik was arrested, Stoltenberg tried to rally the famous spirit of tolerance in Norway, where prisons are relatively comfortable and crime and repeat offending rates are low.

    Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer has more from Oslo.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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