United in grief, Oslo remembers its youth

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Norway held the first funerals for the victims of the country's devastating Utoya island massacre and Oslo city centre bombing yesterday as police interrogated the self-confessed killer for the second time.

The centre of Oslo was covered in bouquets of flowers and candles as the city stood still for a minute's silence in memory of the 77 mostly young victims of Anders Breivik's double attack a week ago.

Police yesterday confirmed that a 69th victim had died in hospital after being wounded during Breivik's shooting spree on the island.

Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's 52-year-old Labour Party Prime Minister, marked the occasion by attending a memorial service in the city's cathedral along with most of his cabinet. Hundreds stood in front of a carpet of flowers outside the building commemorating those killed. Many were in tears.

Speaking from a stage covered with red roses, the symbol of his party, Mr Stoltenberg pledged that Norway would not allow itself to be shocked or intimidated into silence. Of the survivors of the massacre he added: "The bravery these young people have shown is catching. We are going to answer hatred with love and honour our heroes for ever."

The memorial service coincided with the first funerals of the youth members of the Norwegian Labour Party who were shot dead by Breivik while attending a youth camp on Utoya island, just north of Oslo, last Friday.

A young Kurdish woman was one of the first victims buried yesterday. Several hundred people, led by a Lutheran priest and an imam, followed the coffin of Bano Rashid, 18, to the Muslim section of the cemetery.

"Seeing the imam and the priest walking together from the church was a mighty image – the strongest message that can be sent to counter the forces we have been witness to," said Foreign Minister Jonas Stoere who attended the ceremony.

Breivik, meanwhile, was taken yesterday from prison to police headquarters for a second interrogation.

Flags around the country – and outside the embassy in London – flew at half-mast. Norway has suspended import tariffs on roses because local producers have been unable to meet demand for the flowers.