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Norway remembers victims a month after massacre

world Updated: Aug 21, 2011 14:36 IST

Norway was to hold a national service of commemoration Sunday for the 77 victims of the shootings and bomb attacks exactly a month ago on its soil, the worst violence in the country in peacetime.

Survivors, families of victims, rescuers, the royal family and ministers were to attend a ceremony in the Spektrum concert hall in Oslo, bringing together many of the country's top performers, including the 1980s pop band A-ha, which has got back together specially for the occasion.

Between passages of music, Norwegian actors will read out loud the names of the 77 victims, mostly young people, who perished in the attacks perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22.

The ceremony, which begins at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) will be directed by Haddy N'jie, born of a Gambian father and Norwegian mother, thereby representing the mixed-race society explicitly rejected by the killer.

The 32-year-old rightwing extremist set out his hatred of Islam and Norway's tolerance of multiculturalism in a 1,500 page document posted on the Internet before detonating a bomb in central Oslo and going on the rampage on the island of Utoeya, where the ruling labour party was holding a summer youth camp.

King Harald and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg are also to give speeches before an audience which will include several foreign dignitaries, notably the presidents of Iceland and Finland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Tarja Halonen, all the Prime Ministers of the Nordic countries, crown princess Victoria of Sweden and prince Fredrik of Denmark.

On Saturday survivors from the youth camp made a difficult, first return to Utoeya, where 69 of their friends were gunned down in cold blood in the hopes of finding some closure to their ordeal.

The day before, relatives of the dead were given their opportunity to visit the island, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Oslo, where their loved ones spent their last moments alive.

As around 500 relatives made their pilgrimage on Friday, Behring Breivik made a new appearance in court, when a judge ordered him to be kept in solitary confinement for another month in the maximum security jail near Oslo where he is being held.

The gunman, who has confessed to the killings but insisted they were "cruel" but "necessary", protested at the judge's decision as "sadistic torture".