Norwegian girl dies in Bulger-type killing

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OSLO - A five-year-old Norwegian girl was killed by boys her own age in an attack recalling the murder of James Bulger, the British toddler, by two young boys.

Silje Marie Redegaard, the victim of a horrifying onslaught by playmates, died while out romping in the first snow of the winter on Saturday. Police declined to give any details of the attack, but the daily Verdens Gang said she was trampled to death in an icy puddle and hit with a stone.

'The girl was maltreated by friends her own age and died as a result of this,' said Chief Inspector Harald Moholt in Trondheim. 'We have had three boys in for talks, but they have given different explanations,' he said, adding that it was still unclear how many took part in the attack. Most of the police investigation had been completed. 'We believe it's reasonably clear what happened,' Mr Moholt said.

The killing drew comparisons with the murder in Britain last year of James Bulger, who was beaten and killed by two young boys in Liverpool.

The newspaper said one of the boys had told police they had asked the girl to undress, which she did. Then the three boys took turns jumping on her while she was lying in the puddle. One of the boys also fetched a stone, which was used to hit her on the head and body.

The attack took place not far from a residential area where many families with young children live. 'We did not kill her, Mummy; we are too young for that,' one of the boys, aged six, had told his parents and police, according to Verdens Gang, which said it had spoken to the young boy's mother, who said police had questioned the boy for seven hours.

On Sunday night the girl's father placed a candle, a letter, a red rose and a picture of her in the snow where Silje Marie was found. 'Thanks for everything. Rest in peace. The memories of you will always be with us,' the letter read.

The boys are all below the minimum age of 15 years, which means they cannot by tried. But they may be given treatment at home or placed in an institution for a limited period.

The two boys who killed James Bulger last year were sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in custody. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were both 10 when they tortured the two-year-old to death, shocked the nation and fuelled debate about youth crime.