Massacre survivors return to island

SURVIVORS of the massacre that killed 69 people in Norway last month carried flowers to the site of the killings and shed tears together yesterday as they remembered a youth camp that was transformed into a scene of horror.

Norway’s criminal police chief said the island was “filled with flowers, candles, pictures, poems and all things the families chose to put down”, after returning from Utoeya island where he spent time with survivors.

Jon Staale Stamnes said the survivors had “very different” reactions to their return to the island. “Some had, of course, traumatic experiences and it’s clear to us that it’s a really tough time for them,” he said. “But also there’s laughter, there’s good stories, so there’s a total mix and blend of emotions.”

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Up to 1,000 survivors and relatives were expected on Utoeya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the memories of the shooting spree by a right-wing extremist, Anders Behring Breivik.

The Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said he would visit “to take part in their mourning and be there for them. I will be there as a friend, as a prime minister.”

Breivik has admitted killing 77 people on 22 July when he first detonated a truck bomb outside government offices in the capital, Oslo, and then went on a shooting spree on the island 25 miles away.

Breivik denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe. He said the attacks were an attempt at cultural revolution, aimed at purging Europe of Muslims and punishing politicians that have embraced multiculturalism.

On Friday, the Oslo District Court extended Breivik’s isolation detention by another four weeks, saying it still does not know if he acted alone. His case is not expected in court until next year.

Near Utoeya, ferries and a pontoon shuttled survivors, in bright orange life vests, to the forested island used by the ruling Labour Party for political functions, camping and celebrations.

Media were not allowed access to the heavily guarded island where Breivik spent 90 minutes executing the 69 people.

Many of the victims were shot in the water as they tried to escape by swimming.

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Norway’s general director of health Bjoern Inge Larsen said: “The people going there today have a lot of anxiety. What we are prepared for is to help them to overcome that anxiety.”

Today a national memorial service is to be held at Oslo Spektrum arena, marking the end of a month of mourning in Norway.

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