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Norway Massacre Survivors Return to Scene of Death


"We are prepared...to help them to overcome."

UTVIKA, Norway (The Blaze/AP) -- One week after confessed Norway shooter Anders Behring Breivik returned with authorities to the island site of the massacre that left 69 people dead, survivors revisited the scene of the killings on Saturday to grieve their lost friends.

Up to 1,000 survivors and relatives were expected on Utoya island, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the shooting spree by a right-wing extremist.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he too would visit Utoya, "to take part in their mourning and be there for them (the survivors)."

"I will be there as a friend, as a prime minister," he said.

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Breivik has admitted killing 77 people on July 22 when he first detonated a truck bomb outside government offices in the capital, Oslo, and then went on a shooting spree on the island, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) away.

Breivik denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe. He said the attacks were an attempt at cultural revolution, aimed at purging Europe of Muslims and punishing politicians that have embraced multiculturalism.

On Friday, the Oslo District Court extended Breivik's isolation detention by another four weeks saying it still does not know if he acted alone.

Police said they wanted to keep Breivik in isolation because they didn't want him to talk to other inmates, although they still believe he acted alone.

Breivik's case is not expected to open until next year. If found guilty on terrorism charges, he could be sentenced to 21 years in prison. An alternative custody arrangement - if he is still considered a danger to the public - could keep him behind bars indefinitely.

Near Utoya, Norway's General Director of Health Bjoern Inge Larsen told reporters he hoped the visits to the island would help survivors and families of the victims come to grips with the deaths.

"The people going there today ... have a lot of anxiety," Larsen said, as he prepared to accompany survivors onto Utoya. "They were life-threatened on this island four weeks ago in a very traumatizing manner, so what we are prepared for is to help them to overcome that anxiety."

In the distance, ferries and a pontoon transported survivors, in bright orange life vests, to the forested island used by the ruling Labor Party for political functions, camping and celebrations.

Per Brekke, logistics chief of the operation, said planning the visits had been a big challenge.

"But, of course, the challenge for each individual to re-enter the island is much bigger," he said.

The heavily guarded island, where 400 health care workers, police and other officials escorted the survivors, was visited on Friday by families and friends of the victims killed in the shooting spree.

On Sunday, a national memorial service is to be held at Oslo Spektrum arena, marking the end of a month of mourning in the Scandinavian country.

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