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Norway honors 77 dead with vigil

Associated Press / August 22, 2011

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OSLO - Norway’s prime minister urged his countrymen to look after each other and be vigilant for intolerance, as the nation concluded a monthlong mourning period with a candlelit memorial service yesterday to the 77 people killed by a right-wing extremist.

Speaking at the ceremony in Oslo, Jens Stoltenberg said, “We need you. No matter where you live, no matter which god you worship, each and every one of us can take responsibility and can guard freedom.’’

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, has admitted to carrying out the July 22 killings - first detonating a car bomb that killed eight people outside government offices in Oslo, and then shooting dead 69 others at a youth camp on the island of Utoya, about 25 miles away.

The prime minister - who addressed 6,700 relatives, survivors, and officials - said, “Together we are an unbreakable chain of care, democracy, and safety - that is our protection against violence.’’

“Today time stops in order to remember those who died,’’ Stoltenberg added. “We do it as one nation. Every candle has warmed, every thought has comforted, every rose has given hope. We are a small country, but we are a large people.’’

Norwegian singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfoer opened the memorial service with a popular Norwegian song “My Little Country,’’ which has taken on special significance since the terror attacks. It left many in the audience quietly wiping away tears.

Addressing the somber gathering, Norway’s King Harald said he felt for each person in the country, but that he was certain Norway would surmount its pain. “I firmly believe that we will uphold our ability to live freely and securely in our country,’’ he said.

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