Norway mourns 76 victims of massacre

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The Independent Online

Norway has begun burying the dead a week after an anti-immigrant extremist killed 76 people in a bombing and shooting rampage.

Mourners of all ages vowed they would not let the massacre threaten their nation's openness and democracy.



An 18-year-old Muslim girl was the first victim to be laid to rest since the gunman opened fire at a political youth camp and bombed the government headquarters in Oslo.



After a funeral service in the Nesodden church outside the capital, Bano Rashid, a Kurdish immigrant from Iraq, was buried in a Muslim rite. Sobbing youths accompanied her coffin, draped in a Kurdish flag.



The attack will "not destroy Norway's commitment to democracy, tolerance and fighting racism," Labour Party youth-wing leader Eskil Pedersen said at a memorial service in Oslo.



Mr Pedersen, who was on the island retreat of Utoya when the gunman's attack began, said: "Long before he stands before a court we can say: he has lost."



He said the youth organisation would return to Utoya next year for its annual summer gathering, a tradition that stretches back decades.



Police said all those killed in the July 22 terror attacks in Oslo and on Utoya island have been identified and that those who had been reported missing have been accounted for.



Police also said Norway's security service will issue a new evaluation of the threat posed by extremists. Since the massacre, questions have persisted about whether authorities had underestimated extremist dangers in Norway.



At today's memorial service in Oslo at the assembly hall of the "People's House," a community centre for Norway's labour movement, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said: "Today it is one week since Norway was hit by evil."



The bullets struck dozens of members of the youth faction of his Labour Party, but they were aimed at the entire nation, Stoltenberg said, on a stage adorned with red roses, the symbol of his party.



"I think July 22 will be a very strong symbol of the Norwegian people's wish to be united in our fight against violence, and will be a symbol of how the nation can answer with love," he told reporters after the ceremony.



Members of the audience raised bouquets of flowers as each speaker took the stage, and some of them fought back tears as they spoke.



Another memorial service was being held at a mosque in an immigrant district of Oslo later.



Anders Behring Breivik, a vehement anti-Muslim, was questioned by police for the second time since surrendering to an anti-terror squad on Utoya, where his victims lay strewn across the shore and in the water. Many were teens who were gunned down as they tried to flee the onslaught.



In a 1,500-page manifesto released just before the attacks, Breivik ranted about Europe being overrun by Muslim immigrants and blamed left-wing political forces for making the continent multicultural.



Police lawyer Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby said the 32-year-old Norwegian remained calm and co-operative during the questioning session, in which investigators reviewed with him his statements from an earlier session on Saturday.



Investigators believe Breivik acted alone, after years of meticulous planning, and have not found anything to support his claims that he is part of an anti-Muslim militant network plotting a series of coups d'etat across Europe.



Police also said they have identified all of the victims, 68 of whom were killed on the island and eight who died after a car bomb exploded in downtown Oslo. Breivik has confessed to both attacks but denies criminal guilt because he believes he is in a state of war, his lawyer and police have said.



Police have charged Breivik with terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison. However, it is possible the charge will change during the investigation to crimes against humanity, which carries a 30-year prison term, said Norway's top prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch.



"Such charges will be considered when the entire police investigation has been finalised," he said. "It is an extensive investigation. We will charge Breivik for each individual killing."



Prosecutors can also seek a special kind of sentence that would enable the court to keep Breivik in prison indefinitely. A formal indictment isn't expected until next year.

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